Visual field asymmetries in attention vary with self-reported attention deficits

William Poynter, Paul Ingram, Scott Minor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine whether an index of self-reported attention deficits predicts the pattern of visual field asymmetries observed in behavioral measures of attention. Studies of "normal" subjects do not present a consistent pattern of asymmetry in attention functions, with some studies showing better left visual field (LVF) performance, others showing no asymmetry or even a right visual field (RVF) advantage. Here we found that a participant variable (a measure of self-reported attention problems) may help to explain these inconsistencies. We used Conners' Adult ADHD Rating Scales to measure self-reported attention problems in a group of 36 normal (non-ADHD) subjects, and we used two behavioral tasks to directly measure their attentional abilities: a lateralized Attention Network Task (ANT) and a visual search task. Comparing subjects with relatively Low versus High scores on the attention-deficit (AD) scale, we found that subjects with High scores were less efficient in orienting attention to the left visual field. When LVF targets were preceded by a valid spatial cue, response times were positively correlated with AD scores, indicating slower covert-attention shifts as attention-deficit scores increased. Right visual field data showed a different pattern of results. Subjects with High AD scores were at least as efficient as those with Low AD scores in orienting attention to the RVF. This study provides evidence that visual field asymmetries in orienting attention vary across individuals, and that level of self-reported attention problems correlates with behavioral deficiencies in orienting attention to the left visual field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-361
Number of pages7
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Hemispheric asymmetries
  • Visual attention


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