We present novel data on the role of attention in eliciting enhanced processing of stimuli associated with self. Participants were required to make pro- or anti-saccades according to whether learned shape–label pairings matched or mismatched. When stimuli matched participants were required to make an anti-saccade, and when the stimuli mismatched a pro-saccade was required. We found that anti-saccades were difficult to make to stimuli associated with self when compared to stimuli associated with a friend and a stranger. In contrast, anti-saccades to friend-stimuli were easier to make than anti-saccades to stranger-stimuli. In addition, a correct anti-saccade to a self-associated stimulus disrupted subsequent pro-saccade trials, relative to when the preceding anti-saccade was made to other stimuli. The data indicate that self-associated stimuli provide a strong cue for explicit shifts of attention to them, and that correct anti-saccades to such stimuli demand high levels of inhibition (which carries over to subsequent pro-saccade trials). The self exerts an automatic draw on attention.
- Saccadic control