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Psychol Sci. 2003 May;14(3):225-31.

Transient spatial attention degrades temporal resolution.

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Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel.


To better understand the interplay between the temporal and spatial components of visual perception, we studied the effects of transient spatial attention on temporal resolution. Given that spatial attention sharpens spatial resolution, can it also affect temporal resolution? To assess temporal resolution, we measured the two-flash fusion threshold When two flashes of light are presented successively to the same location, the two-flash fusion threshold is the minimal interval between the flashes at which they are still perceived as two flashes, rather than a single flash. This assessment of temporal resolution was combined with peripheral precuing--a direct manipulation of transient spatial attention. This allowed us to demonstrate, for the first time, that spatial attention can indeed affect temporal resolution. However, in contrast to its effect on spatial resolution, spatial attention degrades temporal resolution. Two attentional mechanisms that could account for both attentional effects--enhanced spatial resolution and reduced temporal resolution--are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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