In two EEG experiments, we studied the role of visual attention during the preparation of manual movements around an obstacle. Participants performed rapid hand movements to a goal position avoiding a central obstacle either on the left or right side, depending on the pitch of the acoustical go signal. We used a dot probe paradigm to analyze the deployment of spatial attention in the visual field during the motor preparation. Briefly after the go signal but still before the hand movement actually started, a visual transient was flashed either on the planned pathway of the hand (congruent trials) or on the opposite, movement-irrelevant side (incongruent trials). The P1/N1 components that were evoked by the onset of the dot probe were enhanced in congruent trials where the visual transient was presented on the planned path of the hand. The results indicate that, during movement preparation, attention is allocated selectively to the planned trajectory the hand is going to take around the obstacle.

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