Visual salience dominates early visuomotor competition in reaching behavior. Academic Article uri icon


  • In this study, we investigated whether visual salience influences the competition between potential targets during reach planning. Participants initiated rapid pointing movements toward multiple potential targets, with the final target being cued only after the reach was initiated. We manipulated visual salience by varying the luminance of potential targets. Across two separate experiments, we demonstrate that initial reach trajectories are directed toward more salient targets, even when there are twice as many targets (and therefore twice the likelihood of the final target appearing) on the opposite side of space. We also show that this salience bias is time-dependent, as evidenced by the return of spatially averaged reach trajectories when participants were given an additional 500-ms preview of the target display prior to the cue to move. This study shows both when and to what extent task-irrelevant luminance differences affect the planning of reaches to multiple potential targets.


  • Wood, DK
  • Gallivan, JP
  • Chapman, CS
  • Milne, JL
  • Culham, JC
  • Goodale, MA

publication date

  • 2011