Attention trades off spatial acuity

Barbara Montagna, Franco Pestilli, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Covertly attending to a stimulus location increases spatial acuity. Is such increased spatial acuity coupled with a decreased acuity at unattended locations? We measured the effects of exogenous (transient and involuntary) and endogenous (sustained and voluntary) attention on observers' acuity thresholds for a Landolt gap resolution task at both attended and unattended locations. Both types of attention increased acuity at the attended and decreased it at unattended locations relative to a neutral baseline condition. These trade-off findings support the idea that limited processing resources affect early vision, even when the display is impoverished and there is no location uncertainty. There was no benefit without a cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-745
Number of pages11
JournalVision research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 29 2009


  • Cost and benefit
  • Endogenous attention
  • Exogenous attention
  • Landolt acuity
  • Limited resources
  • Spatial covert attention
  • Spatial resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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