Purchase this article with an account.
Li Zhaoping; Attention capture by eye of origin singletons even without awareness—A hallmark of a bottom-up saliency map in the primary visual cortex. Journal of Vision 2008;8(5):1. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/8.5.1.
Download citation file:
© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Human observers are typically unaware of the eye of origin of visual inputs. This study shows that an eye of origin or ocular singleton, e.g., an item in the left eye among background items in the right eye, can nevertheless attract attention automatically. Observers searched for a uniquely oriented bar, i.e., an orientation singleton, in a background of horizontal bars. Their reports of the tilt direction of the search target in a brief (200 ms) display were more accurate in a dichoptic congruent (DC) condition, when the target was also an ocular singleton, than in a monocular (M) condition, when all bars were presented to the same single eye, or a dichoptic incongruent (DI) condition, when an ocular singleton was a background bar. The better performance in DC did not depend on the ability of the observers to report the presence of an ocular singleton by making forced choices in the same stimuli (though without the orientation singleton). This suggests that the ocular singleton exogenously cued attention to its location, facilitating the identification of the tilt singleton in the DC condition. When the search display persisted without being masked, observers' reaction times (RTs) for reporting the location of the search target were shorter in the DC, and longer in the DI, than the M condition, regardless of whether the observers were aware that different conditions existed. In an analogous design, similar RT patterns were observed for the task of finding an orientation contrast texture border. These results suggest that in typical trials, attention was more quickly attracted to or initially distracted from the target in the DC or DI condition, respectively. Hence, an ocular singleton, though elusive to awareness, can effectively compete for attention with an orientation singleton (tilted 20 or 50 degrees from background bars in the current study). Similarly, it can also make a difficult visual search easier by diminishing the set size effect. Since monocular neurons with the eye of origin information are abundant in the primary visual cortex (V1) and scarce in other cortical areas, and since visual awareness is believed to be absent or weaker in V1 than in other cortical areas, our results provide a hallmark of the role of V1 in creating a bottom-up saliency map to guide attentional selection.
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only