Voluntary attention improves performance similarly around the visual field

Simran Purokayastha, Mariel Roberts, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Performance as a function of polar angle at isoeccentric locations across the visual field is known as a performance field (PF) and is characterized by two asymmetries: the HVA (horizontal-vertical anisotropy) and VMA (vertical meridian asymmetry). Exogenous (involuntary) spatial attention does not affect the shape of the PF, improving performance similarly across polar angle. Here we investigated whether endogenous (voluntary) spatial attention, a flexible mechanism, can attenuate these perceptual asymmetries. Twenty participants performed an orientation discrimination task while their endogenous attention was either directed to the target location or distributed across all possible locations. The effects of attention were assessed either using the same stimulus contrast across locations or equating difficulty across locations using individually titrated contrast thresholds. In both experiments, endogenous attention similarly improved performance at all locations, maintaining the canonical PF shape. Thus, despite its voluntary nature, like exogenous attention, endogenous attention cannot alleviate perceptual asymmetries at isoeccentric locations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2784-2794
Number of pages11
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Endogenous attention
  • Horizontal-vertical anisotropy
  • Spatial vision
  • Vertical meridian asymmetry
  • Visual performance fields

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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