Transient attention degrades perceived apparent motion

Yaffa Yeshurun, Elisabeth Hein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transient spatial attention refers to the automatic selection of a location that is driven by the stimulus rather than a voluntary decision. Apparent motion is an illusory motion created by stationary stimuli that are presented successively at different locations. In this study we explored the effects of transient attention on apparent motion. The motion target presentation was preceded by either valid attentional cues that attract attention to the target location in advance (experiments 1-4), neutral cues that do not indicate a location (experiments 1, 3, and 4), or invalid cues that direct attention to a non-target location (experiment 2). Valid attentional cues usually improve performance in various tasks. Here, however, an attentional impairment was found. Observers' ability to discriminate the direction of motion diminished at the cued location. Analogous results were obtained regardless of cue type: singleton cue (experiment 1), central non-informative cue (experiment 2), or abrupt onset cue (experiment 3). Experiment 4 further demonstrated that reversed apparent motion is less likely with attention. This seemingly counterintuitive attentional degradation of perceived apparent motion is consistent with several recent findings, and together they suggest that transient attention facilitates spatial segregation and temporal integration but impairs spatial integration and temporal segregation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-918
Number of pages14
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Sensory Systems
  • Ophthalmology


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