Transient covert attention does alter appearance: A reply to Schneider (2006)

Sam Ling, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We recently demonstrated that transient covert attention increases the apparent contrast of a stimulus (Carrasco, Ling, & Read, 2004). Schneider (2006) proposes that the observed increase in apparent contrast is largely due to sensory interactions occurring between the precue and stimulus, rather than to attention. Specifically, he reports that cuing effects only occur at contrasts near detection threshold, and that there are confounding sensory interactions between the cue and stimulus at suprathreshold detection contrasts. Our response is twofold. First, we outline the key methodological differences between our original study and Schneider's that are likely to account for the different results, and explain how we had ruled out the sensory interaction explanation of the cue. Second, we directly test the prediction put forth by Schneider: If the effects were due to sensory interactions, reversing the luminance polarity of the precue in our paradigm should lead to differential cuing effects. We replicate one of the experiments of our original study and add a condition in which the cue luminance is either black or white. Our results replicated our previous findings-they showed an increase in apparent contrast to a high-contrast stimulus when it was precued. Moreover, we found that the black cue and the white cue had the same effect, thus ruling out the alternative explanation proposed by Schneider. Transient attention does alter contrast appearance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1051-1058
Number of pages8
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • General Psychology


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