The time-course of endogenous temporal attention – Super fast voluntary allocation of attention

Yaffa Yeshurun, Shira Tkacz-Domb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is widely accepted that voluntary spatial attention is slow – it can only affect performance with medium and long cue-target intervals. Here, we examined whether this also holds for voluntary temporal attention. We performed a rigorous examination of the time-course of attention allocation to a point in time using two common paradigms for studying endogenous temporal attention: ‘constant foreperiod’ and ‘temporal orienting’. With both paradigms, the task required non-speeded identification of a letter, whose presentation was preceded by a warning cue. This cue was either auditory or visual, and it was either informative or uninformative. Critically, to avoid exogenous attention, the cues did not involve an intensity change. We found significantly higher identification accuracy when the cue was informative than uninformative, suggesting that temporal attention improved perceptual processing. Importantly, reliable effects of temporal attention on perceptual processing were found with as little as 150 ms from cue onset and up to 2400 ms. Hence, measuring endogenous attention in the temporal domain revealed a twofold faster mechanism than what was believed based on measurements in the spatial domain. These findings challenge the common assumption that voluntary processes are inherently slow. Instead, they portray voluntary mechanisms as considerably more flexible and dynamic, and they further underscore the importance of incorporating the temporal domain into the study of human perception.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number104506
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Cross-modal effects
  • Endogenous attention
  • Temporal attention
  • Voluntary processes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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