Whether or not lexical access from print requires spatial attention has been debated intensively for the last 30 years. Studies involving colour naming generally find evidence that "unattended" words are processed. In contrast, reading-based experiments do not find evidence of distractor processing. One theory ascribes the discrepancy to weaker attentional demands for colour identification. If colour naming does not capture all of a subject's attention, the remaining attentional resources can be deployed to process the distractor word. The present study combined exogenous spatial cueing with colour naming and reading aloud separately and found that colour naming is less sensitive to the validity of a spatial cue than is reading words aloud. Based on these results, we argue that colour naming studies do not effectively control attention so that no conclusions about unattended distractor processing can be drawn from them. Thus we reiterate the consistent conclusion drawn from reading aloud and lexical decision studies: There is no word identification without (spatial) attention.
- Spatial attention
- Visual word recognition