Differential impact of exogenous and endogenous attention on the contrast sensitivity function across eccentricity

Michael Jigo, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Both exogenous and endogenous covert spatial attention enhance contrast sensitivity, a fundamental measure of visual function that depends substantially on the spatial frequency and eccentricity of a stimulus. Whether and how each type of attention systematically improves contrast sensitivity across spatial frequency and eccentricity are fundamental to our understanding of visual perception. Previous studies have assessed the effects of spatial attention at individual spatial frequencies and, separately, at different eccentricities, but this is the first study to do so parametrically with the same task and observers. Using an orientation discrimination task, we investigated the effect of attention on contrast sensitivity over a wide range of spatial frequencies and eccentricities. Targets were presented alone or among distractors to assess signal enhancement and distractor suppression mechanisms of spatial attention. At each eccentricity, we found that exogenous attention preferentially enhanced spatial frequencies higher than the peak frequency in the baseline condition. In contrast, endogenous attention similarly enhanced a broad range of lower and higher spatial frequencies. The presence or absence of distractors did not alter the pattern of enhancement by each type of attention. Our findings reveal how the two types of covert spatial attention differentially shape how we perceive basic visual dimensions across the visual field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020


  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Covert attention
  • Eccentricity
  • Spatial frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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