Spatial Asymmetries In Viewing And Remembering Scenes: Consequences Of An Attentional Bias?

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Chris Dickinson Ph.D., Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:

Abstract: Given a single fixation, memory for scenes containing salient objects near both the left and right view boundaries exhibited a rightward bias in boundary extension (Experiment 1). On each trial, a 500-msec picture and 2.5-sec mask were followed by a boundary adjustment task. Observers extended boundaries 5% more on the right than on the left. Might this reflect an asymmetric distribution of attention? In Experiments 2A and 2B, free viewing of pictures revealed that first saccades were more often leftward (62%) than rightward (38%). In Experiment 3, 500-msec pictures were interspersed with 2.5-sec masks. A subsequent object recognition memory test revealed better memory for left-side objects. Scenes were always mirror reversed for half the observers, thus ruling out idiosyncratic scene compositions as the cause of these asymmetries. Results suggest an unexpected leftward bias of attention that selectively enhanced the representations, causing a smaller boundary extension error and better object memory on the views’ left sides.

Additional Information

Dickinson, C.A., Intraub, H. Spatial asymmetries in viewing and remembering scenes: Consequences of an attentional bias?. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 71, 1251–1262 (2009). Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2009
Salient Object, Line Bisection, Boundary Extension, Leftward Bias, Free Viewing

Email this document to