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Evidence for spatio-temporal selectivity in attentional modulation of the motion aftereffect

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

An ignored region of the visual field might be monitored by an intermittent full visual analysis or by a more continuous but restricted analysis. We investigated which type of process is more likely in early vision by studying the effects of diverting attention on adaptation to a range of spatial (0.5, 2, 4, and 6 c/deg) and temporal (1.5 and 10 Hz) frequencies. During adaptation, subjects either fixated an unchanging digit (normal attention), or named the sequence of changing digits which formed the fixation point (diverted). The test field was always a static version of the adapting field, and the strength of adaptation was measured through the velocity and duration of subsequent Motion Aftereffects (MAEs). When attention during adaptation was normal, MAE durations rose with spatial frequency for the 1.5 Hz stimuli, and declined with spatial frequency for the 10 Hz stimuli. When attention was diverted from the 10 Hz stimuli, MAE durations and velocities fell by a similar amount at all spatial frequencies. However, for the 1.5 Hz stimuli, the effects of diversion were very small at 0.5 c/deg, and rose progressively with spatial frequency, so that MAE reductions were largest at 6 c/deg. It appears that diversion hardly affects the encoding of coarse, slow stimuli, but attenuates the encoding of finer and/or faster stimuli. This is consistent with the idea that during diversion the visual system monitors the scene continuously, but over a restricted range of spatial and temporal scales.


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