The hands shield attention from visual interference

Christopher C. Davoli, James R. Brockmole

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Recent investigations have revealed enhanced processing of information that is presented within hand space. A potential consequence of such enhancement could be that simultaneous processing of information outside of hand space is diminished, but this possibility has yet to be tested. Here, we considered the possibility that the hands can serve as a natural remedy for unwanted interference, by acting as a physical manifestation of the attentional window. Participants performed a flanker task in which they identified a central target letter in the presence of flanking letters that varied in their degrees of compatibility with the target. Participants either held their hands around the target, such that the flankers appeared outside of the hands (but in clear view), or held their hands away from the display, and thus not around any of the stimuli. Flanker interference was markedly reduced when the hands were around the target, and these effects were not attributable to visual differences across the conditions. Collectively, these results indicate that the hands effectively shield attention from visual interference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1386-1390
Number of pages5
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Attention
  • Embodied Cognition
  • Embodied perception
  • Erikson flanker task
  • Hand posture
  • Selective attention
  • Visual attention


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