Inter-individual variations in internal noise predict the effects of spatial attention

Felipe Luzardo, Yaffa Yeshurun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individuals differ considerably in the degree to which they benefit from attention allocation. Thus far, such individual differences were attributed to post-perceptual factors such as working-memory capacity. This study examined whether a perceptual factor – the level of internal noise – also contributes to this inter-individual variability in attentional effects. To that end, we estimated individual levels of internal noise from behavioral variability in an orientation discrimination task (with tilted gratings) using the double-pass procedure and the perceptual-template model. We also measured the effects of spatial attention in an acuity task: the participants reported the side of a square on which a small aperture appeared. Central arrows were used to engage sustained attention and peripheral cues to engage transient attention. We found reliable correlations between individual levels of internal noise and the effects of both types of attention, albeit of opposite directions: positive correlation with sustained attention and negative correlation with transient attention. These findings demonstrate that internal noise – a fundamental characteristic of visual perception – can predict individual differences in the effects of spatial attention, highlighting the intricate relations between perception and attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104888
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Individual differences
  • Internal noise
  • Sustained attention
  • Transient attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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