The risks of downplaying top-down control

Caitlin A. Sisk, Roger W. Remington, Yuhong V. Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Is top-down control necessarily scarce, slow, and hence unimportant in visual selection? Here we outline the risks of downplaying top-down control. Contrary to Theeuwes' review, we suggest that not all sources of attention map onto a unitary attentional priority map. Goals and search habits may influence where and how people deploy attention, respectively. Because goals have modulatory effects on sensory processing, their impact on attention is broad and not always deliberate. In addition, when multiple sources influence attention, top-down control often dominates over less deliberate forms of attention. We agree with Theeuwes that selection history can drive attention independent of explicit goals. Nonetheless, top-down control remains a cornerstone of visual selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number23
JournalJournal of Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Ubiquity Press. All rights reserved.


  • Attention
  • Reward processing
  • Spatial cognition
  • Visual search


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