The effects of perceptual load in central and peripheral regions of the visual field

Hadas Marciano, Yaffa Yeshurun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The perceptual load model claims that attentional selectively depends on perceptual load. Selectivity is high with high load, but low with low load. Previous studies only manipulated load levels at task-relevant regions. In this study, perceptual load was orthogonally manipulated in both relevant (central) and nonrelevant (peripheral) regions, by varying the similarity between the target and nontarget letters and the nontarget letters' heterogeneity. The participants had to identify a target-letter appearing in a central circle of letters. A distractor-letter, appearing in a peripheral circle, was compatible, neutral, or incompatible with the target. As expected, increasing peripheral load deteriorated performance, but only with low levels of central load. The pattern of distractor interference did not follow the model's predictions because distractor interference under high load levels was occasionally found. The expected pattern of results emerged only when the spatial uncertainty regarding the distractor position was low, implying that spatial uncertainty plays an important role in attentional selectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-391
Number of pages25
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Please address all correspondence to Yaffa Yeshurun, Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel. E-mail: This study was supported by the Ran Naor Foundation Grant (no. 9228) to YY, and by The Israel National Road Safety Authority doctoral fellowship to HM. We thank Joel Norman and three anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.


  • Attention
  • Perceptual load
  • Peripheral load

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'The effects of perceptual load in central and peripheral regions of the visual field'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this