The Remote distractor effect in manual responses
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The remote distracter effect (RDE) has previously only been studied in relation to the saccadic system. Given the hypothesis of the premotor theory (Rizzolatti et al, 1987) that a covert shift of attention is a programmed overt attentional shift (i.e. a saccade) where the actual saccade has been inhibited, it can therefore be assumed that influences affecting shifts of overt attention should also influence covert attentional shifts. This study investigated whether RDE occurs in a non-saccadic paradigm by presenting participants with a manual response task requiring a covert shift of attention as well as a saccadic and a simple manual response task. Although there was no significant effect of task on the influence of remote distracters on reaction times (including saccades), the trends in the means of effect of distracter showed a tendency to agree with the experimental hypothesis. It is concluded that although this experiment does not supply premotor theory with any cast-iron support, trends in the data imply that further research, and specifically further power, is required to ascertain the true influence of remote distracters on manual reaction times.