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Long-lasting sensitization to color based on attention

Chia-huei Tseng

Monday, November 29, 2004, 02:00pm - 03:00pm

RuCCS, Lab of Vision Research

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 It is well known that attention enables us to selectively process useful visual information in both daily life activities and lab-designed behavior tasks. To cope the variable challenges, attention is known to be short-duration and quickly reversible. But we don�t know if attention also has long-duration properties � it was never reported before probably because of the lack of a good measurement of the lasting effect.  In this talk, I will first describe an ambiguous motion display as a novel measurement of attention. The display is an isoluminant grating composed of red and green stripes alternating with a texture grating. The perceived direction of this motion sequence depends both on the attended color and on the relative saturation/salience of the composing colors, red and green.  That is, attending to an unsaturated red stripe causes it to behave�in the motion sequence�like a more saturated red stripe.  The change in motion perception is a very sensitive assay of attention.  This enabled us to discover a long-lasting sensitization based on attention. When a subject is trained for a few days, for about an hour each day, to search for an object of a particular color, sensitivity to that color is altered for weeks, and in some cases, for months.  This prolonged alteration in sensitivity is surprising and unexpected, and poses a well-defined puzzle for perceptual and neural scientists.

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