Table of Contents
ISRN Neuroscience
Volume 2013, Article ID 868491, 8 pages
Review Article

What Guides Visual Overt Attention under Natural Conditions? Past and Future Research

Social and Media Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Cologne, Richard-Strauss-Straße 2, 50931 Cologne, Germany

Received 31 August 2013; Accepted 30 October 2013

Academic Editors: A. H. Kihara, A. J. Nelson, J. A. Perianez, and W. Waleszczyk

Copyright © 2013 Kai Kaspar. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the last decade, overt attention under natural conditions became a prominent topic in neuroscientific and psychological research. In this context, one central question is “what guides the direction of gaze on complex visual scenes?” In the present review recent research on bottom-up influences on overt attention is presented first. Against this background, strengths and limitations of the bottom-up approach are discussed and future directions in this field are outlined. In addition to that, the current scope on top-down factors in visual attention is enlarged by discussing the impact of emotions and motivational tendencies on viewing behavior. Overall, this review highlights how behavioral and neurophysiological research on overt attention can benefit from a broader scope on influential factors in visual attention.