A Reassessment of the Pseudoneglect Effect: Attention Allocation Systems are Selectively Engaged by Semantic and Spatial Processing

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Healthy individuals display systematic inaccuracies when allocating attention to perceptual space. Under many conditions, optimised spatial attention processing of the right hemisphere’s frontoparietal attention network directs more attention to the left side of perceptual space than the right. This is the pseudoneglect effect. We present evidence reshaping our fundamental understanding of this neural mechanism. We describe a previously unrecognised, but reliable, attention bias to the right side of perceptual space that is associated with semantic object processing. Using an object bisection task, we revealed a significant rightward bias distinct from the leftward bias elicited by the traditional line bisection task. In Experiment 2, object-like shapes that were not easily recognisable exhibited an attention bias between that of horizontal lines and objects. Our results support our proposal that the rightward attention bias is a product of semantic processing and its lateralisation in the left hemisphere. In Experiment 3, our novel object-based adaptation of the landmark task further supported this proposition and revealed temporal dynamics of the effect. This research provides novel and crucial insight into the systems supporting intricate and complex attention allocation and provides impetus for a shift towards studying attention in ways that increasingly reflect our complex environments.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Sep 2020