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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2000 Nov;1(2):91-100.

Visual attention: insights from brain imaging.

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  • 1Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NE20-454, 77 Mass Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


We are not passive recipients of the information that impinges on our retinae, but active participants in our own perceptual processes. Visual experience depends critically on attention. We select particular aspects of a visual scene for detailed analysis and control of subsequent behaviour, but ignore other aspects so completely that moments after they disappear from view we cannot report anything about them. Here we show that functional neuroimaging is revealing much more than where attention happens in the brain; it is beginning to answer some of the oldest and deepest questions about what visual attention is and how it works.

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