Allocation of Attention in the Visual Field

This experiment is based on the following paper:

Eriksen, C., & Yeh, Y. (1985). Allocation of attention in the visual field. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 11, 583-597. Copyright (1985) by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted with permission.


When you are searching for a face in a crowd, how do you direct and divide your attention? Previous research has supported variations on a two-stage model of attentional allocation. The first stage partially analyzes many faces at the same time or in parallel. But the capacity to analyze each face is limited. Not all the information is passed onto stage two. Depending on the model, Stage 2 is where you become consciously aware of the faces you have seen, where they enter short-term memory, or simply where they are analyzed in greater detail.

The authors here explore one such model proposed by Jonides (1983). In this model:

Subjects have two modes of attending the visual display: (a) They can allocate attentional resources evenly across the entire display, processing the display elements in parallel but at a relatively slow rate; or (b) in response to a precue, they can concentrate attentional resources on one display location. In this second mode, processing is facilitated. (p.585)

The present experiment asks several questions:

INDENT Can attention be simultaneously focused on separate locations in the visual field? (b) When attention is prefocused on an invalid display location , does the system then revert to
parallel search, or does serial search in the focal attentional mode continue over the other display locations? © When attention is focused, are there still some resources allocated to the non-focused locations? (d) What is the nature of the costs when attention is focused on an invalid location? (p.585)


The full text describing the experiment is available here.

The experiments are available below. (183 KB)

superlab_classic_experiments.pdf (715 KB) (232 KB)


I’m not clear how to run the experiments…where do the zip files have to be unzipped to?

The unzipped files do not have to be in a particular location. Once unzipped, you will see a file with an .SL4 extension and perhaps some stimuli files. Double-click on the .SL4 to launch the experiment.

it’s useful

Why is it not letting me download the files? aren’t they free? :confused:

Yes, they are free. Is it giving you an error message? If so, what is it saying?