Selective visual attention ensures constancy of sensory representations: Testing the influence of perceptual load and spatial competition

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Abstract

We report findings from several variants of a psychophysical experiment using an acceleration detection task in which we tested predictions derived from recent neurophysiological data obtained from monkey area MT. The task was designed as a Posner paradigm and required subjects to detect the speed-up of a moving bar, cued with 75% validity. Displays varied according to number of simultaneously presented objects, spatial distance, and difficulty of the task. All data obtained under different levels of competition with multiple objects were compared to a corresponding condition, in which only a single moving bar was presented in the absence of any interfering distracter object. For attended objects, subjects did not show any difference in their ability to detect accelerations, regardless of the strength of inter-object competition or spatial distance. This finding was consistent in all of the experiments, and was even obtained when the acceleration was made hardly detectable. In contrast, increasing competitive interactions either by enhancing number of objects or spatial proximity resulted in strong reduction of performance for non-attended objects. The findings support current noise reduction models and suggest that attention adjusts neuronal processing to ensure a constant sensory representation of the attended object as if this object was the only one in the scene. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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APA

Wegener, D., Orlando Galashan, F., Markowski, D. N., & Kreiter, A. K. (2006). Selective visual attention ensures constancy of sensory representations: Testing the influence of perceptual load and spatial competition. Vision Research, 46(21), 3563–3574. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.visres.2006.06.008

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