Many research studies have shown the advantage of directing the focus of attention (FOA) externally as opposed to internally. However, it is not clear how the availability of concurrent visual feedback might impact attentional processes as the FOA is shifted between internal, external, relevant, and irrelevant sources of attention. The current experiment varied the FOA by asking the participants to judge joint angles (internal-relevant), respiration (internal-irrelevant), dart release angle (external-relevant), and tone loudness (external-irrelevant) at dart release in which task-intrinsic concurrent visual feedback was available or not. Spatial errors and trial-to-trial variability in the outcome were reduced when vision was available. Spatial errors were greater during internal judgments compared with external judgments particularly when vision was not available and when making judgments about task-relevant factors. A focus on irrelevant factors generally did not affect performance compared with relevant factors. These findings suggest that availability of concurrent visual feedback modulates focus of attention effects in motor control.
Sherwood is with the Dept. of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO. Lohse is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL. Healy is with the Dept. of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.