Perceptual Science Series
How Attention Affects Spatial Resolution
Dr. Marisa Carrasco
From Monday, March 31, 2014 - 11:00am
To Sunday, March 30, 2014 - 12:00am
New York University, Department of Psychology, Center for Neural Science & Center for Brain Imaging
Attention allows us to select relevant sensory information for preferential processing. One prominent role of attention is the modulation of performance in tasks that involve the visual system’s spatial resolution. I will discuss psychophysical studies regarding the effects of covert attention –the selective processing of visual information in the absence of eye movements– on perceptual performance and appearance. I relate these findings to the physiological evidence that attention modulates neuronal responses and alters the profile and position of receptive fields near the attended location. First, I will describe how spatial resolution increases at the attended locations at the expense of reduced sensitivity at unattended locations in visual search and acuity tasks. Second, I will explain how attention alters the representation, and therefore, the appearance, of visual information. Third, I will show differential effects of endogenous (voluntary) attention and exogenous (involuntary) attention on a texture segmentation task, and demonstrate how selective adaptation can help reveal the mechanisms underlying these differential effects. Altogether these studies illustrate that attention not only affects our visual performance but it also alters the way the world appears to us in tasks mediated by the visual system’s spatial resolution.