Attention and distraction in the predictive brain

Heleen A. Slagter*, Dirk van Moorselaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Whether it is possible to ignore a physically salient distractor has been a topic of active debate over the past 25 years, with empirical evidence for and against each of the theoretical stances. We put forward that predictive processing may provide a unified theoretical perspective that can account reasonably well for the empirical literature on attentional capture. In this perspective, capture is a logical consequence of the overall imperative of the brain to predict what sensory signals provide precise information to achieve goal-directed behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-636
Number of pages6
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number9
Early online date28 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by European Research Council [(ERC) starting grant (679399)].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Attentional capture
  • inhibition
  • predictive processing
  • statistical learning
  • visual search


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