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Sara Stevens, Jay Pratt; Attending to peripheral cues distorts objects, but attending to central cues does not. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):431. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.431.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Much is known about the temporal consequences of allocating attention in the visual field; targets are detected faster at cued locations. The spatial consequences, however, are much less understood. One such spatial consequence is the attentional repulsion effect (ARE), where a brief peripheral cue appears to shift the location of a Vernier stimulus in the opposite direction to where the peripheral cue was located. It has been suggested that the ARE interacts with dorsal stream processing, although it is not known whether object information carried by the ventral stream is also affected. The present study investigates if the ARE influences the shape perception of objects. The first experiment used peripheral cues and showed that a diamond shaped object presented at fixation appeared skewed in the direction opposite the cue. To examine if the ARE for objects is limited to exogenous peripheral cues, two additional experiments were conducted with central gaze and arrow cues, respectively. These central cues, that generate reflexive shifts of attention, were not found to generate AREs. Overall, the present study illustrates that the ARE influences ventral stream shape perception when peripheral reflexive cues are used, but not for central reflexive cues. The ARE could be due to receptive field shrinking, where the peripheral cues capture attention, which in turn sharpens the spatial tuning of the receptive fields in that area. The consequence of this is that receptive fields opposite the cue become spread out and objects therefore appear distorted.
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