It is well established that attention improves performance on many visual tasks. However, for more than 100 years, psychologists, philosophers, and neurophysiologists have debated its phenomenology—whether attention actually changes one's subjective experience. Here, we show that it is possible to objectively and quantitatively investigate the effects of attention on subjective experience. First, we review evidence showing that attention alters the appearance of many static and dynamic basic visual dimensions, which mediate changes in appearance of higher-level perceptual aspects. Then, we summarize current views on how attention alters appearance. These findings have implications for our understanding of perception and attention, illustrating that attention affects not only how we perform in visual tasks, but actually alters our experience of the visual world.
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