The following is a summary of “Pre-saccadic attention relies more on suppression than does covert attention,” published in the January 2023 issue of Ophthalmology by Ouerfelli-Ethier, et al.

How facilitation and suppression mechanisms interacted for target choice during covert and pre-saccadic attentional transitions was unknown. A recent countermanding test revealed that target facilitation was unaffected but there was more suppression at unattended areas during fixation and successful stop trials with saccades compared to trials without saccades. It was uncertain if the discovery was exclusive to paradigms that countermand inhibitory mechanisms. 

For a study, researchers modified the attention capture task developed by Gaspelin and colleagues (2015) so that all locations were periodically probed with letters report trials while one location was frequently primed with line discrimination trials. Additionally, participants completed a baseline task without priming. In blocks of four or six items, covert vs. pre-saccadic attention, the position from the primed site, and time from saccade commencement were all evaluated on 15 individuals to see how these influenced performance at non-primed locations. 

Letter report at primed sites was better than baseline for both attention situations, indicating facilitation, whereas letter report at non-primed locations was poorer, indicating suppression. Comparing letter reports in saccades trials to fixation trials, letter reports performed better at primed sites and poorer at non-primed places. The extra pre-saccadic suppression occurred at a different time than saccadic suppression. When primed and non-primed sites were in the same hemifield or diagonally opposed quadrants, suppression was more pronounced in both attentional circumstances.

The findings demonstrated that attention suppressed non-primed sites more strongly than covert attention in the same spatial quadrant.