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Vision Res. 2000;40(26):3651-64.

Limits of attentive tracking reveal temporal properties of attention.

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Division of Psychonomics, Helmholtz Research Institute, Universiteit Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 2., NL-3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The maximum speed for attentive tracking of targets was measured in three types of (radial) motion displays: ambiguous motion where only attentive tracking produced an impression of direction, apparent motion, and continuous motion. The upper limit for tracking (about 50 deg s-1) was an order of magnitude lower than the maximum speed at which motion can be perceived for some of these stimuli. In all cases but one, the ultimate limit appeared to be one of temporal frequency, 4-8 Hz, not retinal speed or rotation rate. It was argued that this rate reflects the temporal resolution of attention, the maximum rate at which events can be individuated from those that precede or follow them. In one condition, evidence was also found for a speed limit to attentive tracking, a maximum rate at which attention could follow a path around the display.

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