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Vision Res. 2007 Jan;47(1):108-13. Epub 2006 Nov 7.

Comparing the time course and efficacy of spatial and feature-based attention.

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Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, 8th floor, NY 10003, USA.


We investigated the time course of feature-based attention and compared it to the time course of spatial attention in an experiment with identical stimuli and task. Observers detected a speed increment in a compound motion stimulus preceded by cues that indicated either the target location or direction. The cue-target stimulus-onset-asynchrony (SOA) was varied to assess the time course of the attentional effect. We found that spatial attention was deployed earlier than feature-based attention and that both types of attention improved performance to a similar extent at a longer SOA. Results indicate that attention is a flexible mechanism allowing us to efficiently select task-relevant information based on either spatial or feature dimensions, but that spatial attention exert its effects faster.

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