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Attention, Human, Motor, Vision, Audition


One's experience of shifting attention from the color to the smell to the act of picking a flower seems like a unitary process applied, at will, to one modality after another. Yet, the unique experience of sight vs smell vs movement might suggest that the neural mechanisms of attention have been selectively optimized to employ each modality to greatest advantage. Relevant experimental data can be difficult to compare across modalities due to design and methodological heterogeneity. Here we outline some of the issues related to this problem and suggest how experimental data can be obtained across modalities using more uniform methods and measurements. The ultimate goal is to spur efforts across disciplines to provide a large and varied database of empirical observations that will either support the notion of a universal neural substrate for attention or more clearly identify to what degree attentional mechanisms are specialized for each modality.