Sustaining Attention in the Hands

Natalie PhillipsUniversity of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Evan RiskoUniversity of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that basic visual processing is enhanced when stimuli are presented near the hands. It has also been suggested that this preference for processing stimuli presented hand-proximal extends to higher-order cognitive processes, such as executive control (i.e., greater control for hand-proximal stimuli). Executive control, however, is associated with a number of different functions and as such we need a deeper understanding of which functions are and are not influenced. In the present study, we explored whether or not this preference for processing hand-proximal information influences the ability to sustain attention, a process closely associated with executive control. Participants completed a sustained attention task, with hands either near or at a distant from the stimulus. In a series of experiments, we found no evidence for preferential processing for hand-proximal information in a sustained attention task. Implications for a developing theory of the influence of hand-proximity will be discussed.

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