Attention enhances apparent perceptual organization

Antoine Barbot, Sirui Liu, Ruth Kimchi, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perceptual organization and selective attention are two crucial processes that influence how we perceive visual information. The former structures complex visual inputs into coherent units, whereas the later selects relevant information. Attention and perceptual organization can modulate each other, affecting visual processing and performance in various tasks and conditions. Here, we tested whether attention can alter the way multiple elements appear to be perceptually organized. We manipulated covert spatial attention using a rapid serial visual presentation task, and measured perceptual organization of two multielements arrays organized by luminance similarity as rows or columns, at both the attended and unattended locations. We found that the apparent perceptual organization of the multielement arrays is intensified when attended and attenuated when unattended. We ruled out response bias as an alternative explanation. These findings reveal that attention enhances the appearance of perceptual organization, a midlevel vision process, altering the way we perceive our visual environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1824-1832
Number of pages9
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Appearance
  • Perceptual organization
  • Voluntary attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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