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Oculomotor capture can occur automatically in a bottom-up way through the sudden appearance of a new object or in a top-down fashion when a stimulus in the array matches the contents of working memory. However, it is not clear whether or not working memory processing can influence the early stages of oculomotor capture by abrupt onsets. Here we present clear evidence for an early modulation driven by stimulus matches to the contents of working memory in the colour dimension. Interestingly, verbal as well as visual information in working memory influenced the direction of the fastest saccades made in search, saccadic latencies and the curvature of the scan paths made to the search target. This pattern of results arose even though the contents of working memory were detrimental for search, demonstrating an early, automatic top-down mediation of oculomotor onset capture by the contents of working memory.

Original publication




Journal article


Vision Res

Publication Date





1590 - 1597


Adult, Attention, Eye Movements, Female, Fixation, Ocular, Humans, Male, Memory, Short-Term, Photic Stimulation, Reaction Time, Visual Perception, Young Adult