When subjects localize a flash relative to another stationary stimulus, the flash appears displaced in the direction of nearby motion signals (position capture; Whitney and Cavanagh, 2000 Nature Neuroscience 3 954-959). Our previous study had suggested that the position capture is larger for a flash presented ahead of a moving stimulus than for a flash behind it (Watanabe et al, 2003 Perception 32 545-559). In the present study, I investigated the spatial asymmetry of position capture. Experiment I demonstrated that asymmetric position capture occurs primarily in a moving-object-centered coordinate. Experiment 2 showed evidence that the asymmetric position capture operates after individuation of single visual objects. Finally, experiment 3 demonstrated that, when attention was reduced with a dual-task procedure, the asymmetric position capture increased. These results suggest that the spatial asymmetry of position capture occurs without attention but the spatial bias can be reduced by attention. Therefore, the underlying mechanism for the asymmetric spatial bias may be different from attentive tracking (Cavanagh, 1992 Science 257 1563-1565) and mislocalization during smooth pursuit (Brenner et al, 2001 Vision Research 41 2253-2259).
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