Attentional attraction of receptive fields can explain spatial and temporal effects of attention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A multitude of attentional effects were found at both the neural and behavioural levels of perception; however, the nature of the attentional mechanism is an unsettled issue. It is typically assumed that the fundamental impact of attention is enhancement of neuronal responses, but some attentional effects are difficult to explain by such gain modulations. Here we offer a different view: We suggest that the most fundamental impact of attention is the attraction (shift) of receptive fields towards the attended location. We further show, both conceptually and by model simulations, that this attraction of receptive fields can explain a diverse range of attentional effects, spatial as well as temporal, linking physiological measurements at the unit level with psychophysical observations (e.g., enhanced contrast sensitivity, enhanced spatial resolution, the Mexican-hat profile of attention, prolonged perceived duration, prior entry, degraded temporal resolution).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)704-736
Number of pages33
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Please address all correspondence to Orit Baruch, Institute of Information Processing and Decision Making, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel. Email: [email protected] This research was supported by The National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel, founded by The Charles E. Smith Family.


  • Computational model
  • Shift of receptive fields
  • Spatial effects of attention
  • Temporal effects of attention
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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