The time course of exogenous and endogenous control of covert attention

Clayton Hickey*, Wieske Van Zoest, Jan Theeuwes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Studies of eye-movements and manual response have established that rapid overt selection is largely exogenously driven toward salient stimuli, whereas slower selection is largely endogenously driven to relevant objects. We use the N2pc, an event-related potential index of covert attention, to demonstrate that this time course reflects an underlying pattern in the deployment of covert attention. We find that shifts of attention that occur soon after the onset of a visual search array are directed toward salient, task-irrelevant visual stimuli and are associated with slow responses to the target. In contrast, slower shifts are target-directed and are associated with fast responses. The time course of exogenous and endogenous control provides a framework in which some inconsistent results in the capture literature might be reconciled; capture may occur when attention is rapidly deployed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-796
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010


  • Attention
  • Capture
  • ERP
  • N2pc
  • Time course
  • Visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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