Previous studies have reported retrospective influences of visual events that occur after target events. In the attentional attraction effect, a position cue presented after a target stimulus distorts the target's position towards that of the cue. The present study explored the temporal relationship between stimulus presentation and reaction time (RTRT) in this effect in two experiments. Participants performed a speeded localization task on two vertical lines, the positions of which were to be distorted by an additional attentional cue. No significant difference in RTRTs was found between the conditions with simultaneous and delayed cues. RTRT was modulated by the perceived (rather than physical) alignment of the lines. In Experiment 2, we manipulated the strength of attentional capture by modulating the color relevance of the cue to the target. Trials with cues producing stronger attentional capture (with cues of a different color from the targets) were found to induce apparently stronger distortion effects. This result favors the notion that the observed repulsion and attraction effects are driven by attentional mechanisms. Overall, the results imply that the attentional shift induced by the cue might occur rapidly and complete before the establishment of conscious location representation of the cue and the target without affecting overall response time.
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