Additive and interactive effects of spatial attention and expectation on perceptual decisions

Arianna Zuanazzi, Uta Noppeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
140 Downloads (Pure)


Spatial attention and expectation are two critical top-down mechanisms controlling perceptual inference. Based on previous research it remains unclear whether their influence on perceptual decisions is additive or interactive. We developed a novel multisensory approach that orthogonally manipulated spatial attention (i.e. task-relevance) and expectation (i.e. signal probability) selectively in audition and evaluated their effects on observers’ responses in vision. Critically, while experiment 1 manipulated expectation directly via the probability of task-relevant auditory targets across hemifields, experiment 2 manipulated it indirectly via task-irrelevant auditory non-targets. Surprisingly, our results demonstrate that spatial attention and signal probability influence perceptual decisions either additively or interactively. These seemingly contradictory results can be explained parsimoniously by a model that combines spatial attention, general and spatially selective response probabilities as predictors with no direct influence of signal probability. Our model provides a novel perspective on how spatial attention and expectation facilitate effective interactions with the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6732
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2018


  • attention
  • human behaviour


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