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Nat Neurosci. 2004 Mar;7(3):308-13. Epub 2004 Feb 15.

Attention alters appearance.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, New York 10003, USA. marisa.carrasco@nyu.edu

Abstract

Does attention alter appearance? This critical issue, debated for over a century, remains unsettled. From psychophysical evidence that covert attention affects early vision-it enhances contrast sensitivity and spatial resolution-and from neurophysiological evidence that attention increases the neuronal contrast sensitivity (contrast gain), one could infer that attention changes stimulus appearance. Surprisingly, few studies have directly investigated this issue. Here we developed a psychophysical method to directly assess the phenomenological correlates of attention in humans. We show that attention alters appearance; it boosts the apparent stimulus contrast. These behavioral results are consistent with neurophysiological findings suggesting that attention changes the strength of a stimulus by increasing its 'effective contrast' or salience.

Comment in

PMID:
14966522
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3882082
Free PMC Article

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