Attention can modulate processing of visual input according to task-relevant features, even as early as approximately 100 ms after stimulus presentation. In the present study, event-related potential and behavioral data revealed that inhibition of distractor features, rather than activation of target features, is the primary driver of early feature-based selection in human observers. This discovery of inhibition consistent with task goals during early visual processing suggests that inhibition plays a much larger role at an earlier stage of target selection than previously recognized. It also highlights the importance of understanding the role of inhibition (in addition to activation) in attention.
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