Attention enhances contrast appearance via increased input baseline of neural responses

Elizabeth K. Cutrone, David J. Heeger, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Covert spatial attention increases the perceived contrast of stimuli at attended locations, presumably via enhancement of visual neural responses. However, the relation between perceived contrast and the underlying neural responses has not been characterized. In this study, we systematically varied stimulus contrast, using a two-alternative, forcedchoice comparison task to probe the effect of attention on appearance across the contrast range. We modeled performance in the task as a function of underlying neural contrast-response functions. Fitting this model to the observed data revealed that an increased input baseline in the neural responses accounted for the enhancement of apparent contrast with spatial attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2014


  • Contrast appearance
  • Covert attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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