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Examining the Mechanisms of Internal and External Focus of Attention With Donders’ Subtractive Method

Jarrod Blinch, John R. Harry, Melanie A. Hart, and Denis Cousineau

The goal of the current study was to measure the processing demands on the stages of information processing with internal and external foci of attention. Participants completed simple and two-choice reaction time tasks with internal and external foci of attention. Donders’ subtraction method was used to isolate the cumulative duration of stages unique to simple and choice reaction time tasks. Mean reaction time was comparable with internal and external foci of attention in simple and two-choice reaction time tasks. These results suggest that processing demands were comparable with internal and external foci of attention. We hypothesize that there was not a processing advantage for an external focus in simple reaction time because the required movements had low movement complexity.