Efficient control of attentional resources and high-acuity vision are both fundamental for survival. Shifts in visual attention are known to covertly enhance processing at locations away from the center of gaze, where visual resolution is low. It is unknown, however, whether selective spatial attention operates where the observer is already looking-that is, within the high-acuity foveola, the small yet disproportionally important rod-free region of the retina. Using new methods for precisely controlling retinal stimulation, here we show that covert attention flexibly improves and speeds up both detection and discrimination at loci only a fraction of a degree apart within the foveola. These findings reveal a surprisingly precise control of attention and its involvement in fine spatial vision. They show that the commonly studied covert shifts of attention away from the fovea are the expression of a global mechanism that exerts its action across the entire visual field.
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