To look or not to look: dissociating presaccadic and covert spatial attention

Hsin Hung Li, Nina M. Hanning, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Attention is a central neural process that enables selective and efficient processing of visual information. Individuals can attend to specific visual information either overtly, by making an eye movement to an object of interest, or covertly, without moving their eyes. We review behavioral, neuropsychological, neurophysiological, and computational evidence of presaccadic attentional modulations that occur while preparing saccadic eye movements, and highlight their differences from those of covert spatial endogenous (voluntary) and exogenous (involuntary) attention. We discuss recent studies and experimental procedures on how these different types of attention impact visual performance, alter appearance, differentially modulate the featural representation of basic visual dimensions (orientation and spatial frequency), engage different neural computations, and recruit partially distinct neural substrates. We conclude that presaccadic attention and covert attention are dissociable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-686
Number of pages18
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • contrast
  • endogenous attention
  • exogenous attention
  • eye movements
  • featural representation
  • orientation
  • spatial frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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