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Vision Res. 1997 Jan;37(1):17-23.

Transient visual attention is dominated by the magnocellular stream.

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  • 1University of Missouri, St Louis, USA.


Robust visual attentional responses are produced by the sudden onset of a visual cue, but the properties of cues that best elicit an attentional response are not fully known. We used the line-motion illusion (Hikosaka et al., 1991) to investigate the optimal cue properties that evoke visual attention. We found that visual attention is driven primarily by the luminance contrast of the cue. Furthermore, by manipulating the spatial, chromatic, and contrast properties of cues, we found that magnocellular (M) stream biased cues always override the response to parvocellular (P) stream biased cues, even when the P stream biased cues are presented first. Our data suggest that cues that preferentially excite the M pathway predominantly capture visual attention.

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