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Brain Cogn. 1985 Jul;4(3):313-27.

Parafoveal attention in congenitally deaf and hearing young adults.


This reaction-time study compared the performance of 20 congenitally and profoundly deaf, and 20 hearing college students on a parafoveal stimulus detection task in which centrally presented prior cues varied in their informativeness about stimulus location. In one condition, subjects detected a parafoveally presented circle with no other information being present in the visual field. In another condition, spatially complex and task-irrelevant foveal information was present which the subjects were instructed to ignore. The results showed that although both deaf and hearing people utilized cues to direct attention to specific locations and had difficulty in ignoring foveal information, deaf people were more proficient in redirecting attention from one spatial location to another in the presence of irrelevant foveal information. These results suggest that differences exist in the development of attentional mechanisms in deaf and hearing people. Both groups showed an overall right visual-field advantage in stimulus detection which was attenuated when the irrelevant foveal information was present. These results suggest a left-hemisphere superiority for detection of parafoveally presented stimuli independent of cue informativeness for both groups.

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