Abrupt onsets of visual cues capture an observer's attention, even when the cues do not reach the observer's visual awareness. In the present study, we investigated the effects of subthreshold cues on the performance of a useful field of view task. Participants localized a target stimulus presented in the peripheral visual field while identifying a character presented at the fovea. Before the presentation of central and peripheral targets, a suprathreshold or subthreshold cue indicating a likely location of the peripheral target was presented. We found that the suprathreshold cue led to both a benefit in the valid trials and cost in the invalid trials, while the subthreshold cue produced only a benefit in the valid trials without a cost in the invalid trials. Similar patterns of results were also observed when the cue preceded the targets by 10-200 ms, although a small cost was observed for the 12 deg eccentricity at the stimulus onset asynchronies of 50 ms and 100 ms in the subthreshold condition. These results indicate that attentional capture occurs without awareness of the cue and suggest that the effect of the cue on the spatial shift of attention would be different between the suprathreshold and subthreshold conditions.
- Useful field of view task