A peripheral visual cue in an empty field (1) often summons head or eyes, or both, (2) improves efficiency at the cued position while attention is directed to it, even without overt movements, and (3) reduces processing efficiency at the cued position once attention is withdrawn. We have studied the time course and the effects of mid-brain and cortical damage on these components of orienting. The facilitation arises from shifts in covert attention. In cases of mid-brain degeneration due to progressive supranuclear palsy, saccadic movements were abolished, while covert orienting still occurs. However, covert orienting was found to be delayed in directions in which eye movements were most affected, suggesting a role for mid-brain pathways in covert orienting. Parietal lesions can cause massive loss in detection contralateral to the lesion. This is especially true when attention has been directed to the opposite side. These findings relate aspects of covert orienting of attention to neural control systems.