How spatial and feature-based attention affect the gain and tuning of population responses

Sam Ling, Taosheng Liu, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

How does attention optimize our visual system for the task at hand? Two mechanisms have been proposed for how attention improves signal processing: gain and tuning. To distinguish between these two mechanisms we use the equivalent-noise paradigm, which measures performance as a function of external noise. In the present study we explored how spatial and feature-based attention affect performance by assessing their threshold-vs-noise (TvN) curves with regard to the signature behavioral effects of gain and tuning. Furthermore, we link our psychophysical results to neurophysiology by implementing a simple, biologically-plausible model to show that attention affects the gain and tuning of population responses differentially, depending on the type of attention being deployed: Whereas spatial attention operates by boosting the gain of the population response, feature-based attention operates by both boosting the gain and sharpening the tuning of the population response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1194-1204
Number of pages11
JournalVision research
Volume49
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2 2009

Keywords

  • Feature-based attention
  • Gain
  • Global motion
  • Population response
  • Spatial attention
  • Tuning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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