Using Rescorla’s truly random control condition to measure truly exogenous covert orienting
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Studies of exogenous covert orienting use peripheral cues (stimuli) that are spatially uninformative about the locations of subsequent targets. When the time course of the cue’s influence on performance is explored (by varying the cue target onset asynchrony; CTOA), a biphasic pattern is usually seen with better performance at the cued location when the CTOA is short (typically attributed to attentional capture) and worse performance at the cued location when the CTOA is long (attributed to inhibition of return). However, while spatially uninformative, these cues (even when a nonaging foreperiod is used) entail atemporal contingency with the subsequent target. Consequently, this so-called capture may reflect an unintended consequence of endogenous allocation of temporal attention. Following Lawrence and Klein (2013) we used Rescorla’s (1967) truly random control condition to ensure that the spatially uninformative peripheral stimuli were temporally completely uninformative. Even such completely uninformative peripheral stimuli generated the prototypical biphasic pattern.