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Vision Res. 1995 Mar;35(5):621-34.

Feature-specific effects of selective visual attention.

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Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912.


Four experiments were conducted to quantify the effect of performing a foveal discrimination task on sensitivity for a peripheral grating. The observer's primary task was to discriminate either the spatial frequency or orientation of successive foveal Gabor patches. On a third of the trials they also performed a secondary task to detect the presence of a near-threshold grating in the periphery. We find that sensitivity for detection of the peripheral grating depends on the similarity of the spatial frequencies and orientations between the foveal and peripheral stimuli. Importantly, sensitivity is also affected by which feature is being discriminated in the central task. Because the detectability of the peripheral grating is different when different features of the central stimuli are discriminated, we suggest that the effects on sensitivity are due to feature-specific attention and not simply to passive interactions between filters with similar tuning properties.

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