Conflict resolved

on the role of spatial attention in reading and color naming tasks

Serje Robidoux*, Derek Besner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


The debate about whether or not visual word recognition requires spatial attention has been marked by a conflict: the results from different tasks yield different conclusions. Experiments in which the primary task is reading based show no evidence that unattended words are processed, whereas when the primary task is color identification, supposedly unattended words do affect processing. However, the color stimuli used to date does not appear to demand as much spatial attention as explicit word reading tasks. We first identify a color stimulus that requires as much spatial attention to identify as does a word. We then demonstrate that when spatial attention is appropriately captured, distractor words in unattended locations do not affect color identification. We conclude that there is no word identification without spatial attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1709-1716
Number of pages8
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015



  • Color naming
  • Exogenous cueing
  • Spatial attention
  • Stroop interference
  • Visual word recognition

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