On the flexibility of sustained attention and its effects on a texture segmentation task

Yaffa Yeshurun, Barbara Montagna, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previously we have shown that transient attention-the more automatic, stimulus-driven component of spatial attention-enhances spatial resolution. Specifically, transient attention improves texture segmentation at the periphery, where spatial resolution is too low, but impairs performance at central locations, where spatial resolution is already too high for the task. In the present study we investigated whether sustained attention-the more controlled component of spatial attention-can also affect texture segmentation, and if so whether its effect will be similar to that of transient attention. To that end we combined central, symbolic cues with texture displays in which the target appears at several eccentricities. We found that sustained attention can also affect texture segmentation, but unlike transient attention, sustained attention improved performance at all eccentricities. Comparing the effect of pre-cues and post-cues indicated that the benefit brought about by sustained attention is significantly greater than the effect of location uncertainty reduction. These findings indicate that sustained attention is a more flexible mechanism that can optimize performance at all eccentricities in a task where performance is constrained by spatial resolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-95
Number of pages16
JournalVision Research
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Jennifer Corbett, Stuart Fuller, Anna Marie Giordano, Samuel Ling, Taosheng Liu, Franco Pestilli, and Dennis Santella for useful discussions and comments on previous drafts. We also thank Dennis Santella for assistance with data collection for Experiments 3 and 4. This research was supported by Grant No. 2001169 from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), Jerusalem, Israel to Y.Y. and M.C., and by NIH to M.C. (R01 EY016200-01A2).

Keywords

  • Covert attention
  • Spatial vision
  • Sustained attention
  • Texture segmentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Ophthalmology

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