The early attentional pancake: Minimal selection in depth for rapid attentional cueing

Ryan E. O’Donnell, Kyrie H. Murawski, Ella Herrmann, Jesse Wisch, Garrett D. Sullivan, Brad Wyble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


There have been conflicting findings on the degree to which rapidly deployed visual attention is selective for depth, and this issue has important implications for attention models. Previous findings have attempted to find depth-based cueing effects on such attention using reaction time (RT) measures for stimuli presented in stereo goggles with a display screen. Results stemming from such approaches have been mixed, depending on whether target/distractor discrimination was required. To help clarify the existence of such depth effects, we have developed a paradigm that measures accuracy rather than RT in an immersive virtual-reality environment, providing a more appropriate context of depth. Three modified Posner Cueing paradigms were run to test for depth-specific rapid attentional selectivity. Participants fixated a cross while attempting to identify a rapidly masked black letter preceded by a red cue that could be valid in depth, side, or both. In Experiment 1a, a potent cueing effect was found for lateral cueing validity, but a weak effect was found for depth despite an extreme difference in virtual depth (1 vs. 300 m). In Experiment 1b, a near-replication of 1a, the lateral effect replicated while the depth effect did not. Finally, in Experiment 2, to increase the depth cue’s effectiveness, the letter matched the cue’s color, and the presentation duration was increased; however, again only a minimal depth-based cueing effect – no greater than that of Experiment 1a – was observed. Thus, we conclude that rapidly deployed attention is driven largely by spatiotopic rather than depth-based information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2195-2204
Number of pages10
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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