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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1994 Aug;20(4):887-904.

Effects of spatial cuing on luminance detectability: psychophysical and electrophysiological evidence for early selection.

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  • 1Department of Neurosciences, University of California, La Jolla 92093-0608.


Three experiments were conducted to determine whether attention-related changes in luminance detectability reflect a modulation of early sensory processing. Experiments 1 and 2 used peripheral cues to direct attention and found substantial effects of cue validity on target detectability; these effects were consistent with a sensory-level locus of selection but not with certain memory- or decision-level mechanisms. In Experiment 3, event-related brain potentials were recorded in a similar paradigm using central cues, and attention was found to produce changes in sensory-evoked brain activity beginning within the 1st 100 ms of stimulus processing. These changes included both an enhancement of sensory responses to attended stimuli and a suppression of sensory responses to unattended stimuli; the enhancement and suppression effects were isolated to different neural responses, indicating that they may arise from independent attentional mechanisms.

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