How attention enhances spatial resolution: Evidence from selective adaptation to spatial frequency

Marisa Carrasco, Fani Loula, Yun Xian Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In this study, we investigated how spatial resolution and covert attention affect performance in a texture segmentation task in which performance peaks at midperiphery and drops at peripheral and central retinal locations. The central impairment is called the central performance drop (CPD; Kehrer, 1989). It has been established that attending to the target location improves performance in the periphery where resolution is too low for the task, but impairs it at central locations where resolution is too high. This is called the central attention impairment (CAI; Yeshurun & Carrasco, 1998,2000). We employed a cuing procedure in conjunction with selective adaptation to explore (1) whether the CPD is due to the inhibition of low spatial frequency responses by high spatial frequency responses in central locations, and (2) whether the CAI is due to attention's shifting sensitivity to higher spatial frequencies. We found that adaptation to low spatial frequencies does not change performance in this texture segmentation task. However, adaptation to high spatial frequencies diminishes the CPD and eliminates the CAI. These results indicate that the CPD is primarily due to the dominance of high spatial frequency responses and that covert attention enhances spatial resolution by shifting sensitivity to higher spatial frequencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1004-1012
Number of pages9
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Volume68
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)

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