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Nature. 1990 Mar 1;344(6261):60-2.

Modulation of the motion aftereffect by selective attention.

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Vision Center Laboratory, Salk Institute, San Diego, California 92138-9216.


The motion aftereffect is a much studied and well documented phenomenon. After viewing a moving visual pattern for a period of time, the same pattern appears to drift in the opposite direction when it is stopped. Psychophysical experiments involving interocular transfer, dichoptic stimulation, and motion aftereffects contingent upon other visual parameters such as colour, orientation and texture, imply that the motion aftereffect is generated at the level of the visual cortex. It has been hypothesized that cortical neurons specialized for the detection of motion along a particular direction become 'fatigued' during the adaptation period so that the resting equilibrium subsequently shifts in the opposite direction to that of the adapting stimulus, giving rise to the sensation of the aftereffect. I have found that if observers are engaged in a separate discrimination task superimposed on a moving textured background, the subsequent motion aftereffect to the background is considerably reduced. It seems that motion aftereffects are susceptible to attentional mechanisms.

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