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Psychol Sci. 2000 Mar;11(2):139-46.

Noise exclusion in spatial attention.

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Department of Cognitive Sciences, Institute of Mathematical Behavioral Sciences, and Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-5100, USA.


Precue validity affects the performance of perceptual tasks. These spatial attention effects have been variously attributed to facilitation of processing, capacity allocation, or noise reduction. We used a new attention-plus-external (stimulus)-noise paradigm and model to identify the mechanisms of attention in cue-validity paradigms. A new phenomenon is reported: a large effect of location cue validity in an orientation identification task that specifically occurs when the stimulus is embedded in external (environmental or stimulus) noise. This result identifies the mechanism of the effect as external-noise exclusion, distinguished from stimulus enhancement that manifests itself only in noiseless stimulus environments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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