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Reaching Toward the Goal


Curved reach trajectories have demonstrated that selective attention to possible targets narrows over time to the appropriate response and that the inhibition of distractors is slower than the facilitation of targets.

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cific feature (e.g., a red item among           PERCEPTION AND ACTION                           Baldassi et al. (2009). Search superiority in
other colored items) or for a color                                                             autism within, but not outside the crowding re-
singleton (e.g., a unique-colored
                                             Reaching Toward the Goal                           gime. Vis Res, 49, 2151.
item among uniform items). In a sub-         Song & Nakayama (2009). Hidden cognitive           Crewther & Sutherland (in press). The
                                             states revealed in choice reaching tasks. Trends   more he looked inside, the more Piglet wasn’t
sequent test session, the observers          Cogn Sci, 13, 360.                                 there: Is autism really blessed with visual
searched through displays contain-                                                              hyperacuity? Biol Psychiatry. doi:10.1016/
ing, for example, a red target among            Will the era of button pressing in              j.biopsych.2009.02.036
uniform items. In these test displays,       cognitive psychology ever end? Per-
attention could be guided by either          haps not, but a new surge of research                  People with autism have surpris-
feature or singleton information.            based on continuous measures of                    ingly good vision. For one thing, they
To determine which attentional set           behavior has found a voice in Song                 seem able to find simple geometric
an observer used in the test session,        and Nakayama’s recent review ar-                   shapes in complicated line drawings
task-irrelevant distractors appeared         ticle. Although eye movements have                 more rapidly than do normal observ-
that would capture attention if they         a long history of revealing cognitive              ers (Shah & Frith, 1983, J Child Psy-
matched the observer’s attentional           mechanisms, the authors argue that                 chol Psychiatry 24:613). They also
set. In Leber et al.’s study, the distrac-   arm and hand movements can be even                 have unusually short reaction times
tor, like the target, was a uniquely col-    more illuminating because of their                 when visually searching for conjunc-
ored item among uniform items. Ob-           slower time course and longer dura-                tions (Plaisted et al., 1998, J Child
servers who searched using specific          tion. As summarized in their review,               Psychol Psychiatry 39:777) and
feature information (e.g., red items)        recent research has had much suc-                  unique features (O’Riordan, 2004,
would have attention captured by red         cess demonstrating concurrent pro-                 Autism 8:229). However, three new
distractors but not by, say, green ones.     cessing of multiple cognitive stages               studies cast doubt on previous claims
Observers who searched for color sin-        through measurement of movement                    (Ashwin et al., 2009, Biol Psychiatry
gletons would have attention captured        trajectories. Curved reach trajecto-               65:17) of “eagle-eyed” acuity in au-
by all singleton distractors—not only        ries have demonstrated that selective
                                                                                                tistic spectrum disorder. Two of them
by red singletons.                           attention to possible targets narrows
                                                                                                (Crewther & Sutherland, Bach &
   Not only did Leber et al. find that       over time to the appropriate response
                                                                                                Dakin) explain how a methodologi-
attentional set was carried over from        and that the inhibition of distrac-
                                                                                                cal artifact must have contaminated
training to the test trials, but the at-     tors is slower than the facilitation of
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