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Keith A. Schneider; Attention alters decision criteria but not appearance: A reanalysis of Anton-Erxleben, Abrams, and Carrasco (2010). Journal of Vision 2011;11(13):7. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.13.7.
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Paying attention to a stimulus affords it many behavioral advantages, but whether attention also changes its subjective appearance is controversial. K. A. Schneider and M. Komlos (2008) demonstrated that the results of previous studies suggesting that attention increased perceived contrast could also be explained by a biased decision mechanism. This bias could be neutralized by altering the methodology to ask subjects whether two stimuli were equal in contrast or not rather than which had the higher contrast. K. Anton-Erxleben, J. Abrams, and M. Carrasco (2010) claimed that, even using this equality judgment, attention could still be shown to increase perceived contrast. In this reply, we analyze their data and conclude that the effects that they reported resulted from fitting symmetric functions that poorly characterized the individual subject data, which exhibited significant asymmetries between the high- and low-contrast tails. The strength of the effect attributed to attentional enhancement in each subject was strongly correlated with this skew. By refitting the data with a response model that included a non-zero asymptotic response in the low-contrast regime, we show that the reported attentional effects are better explained as changes in subjective criteria. Thus, the conclusion of Schneider and Komlos that attention biases the decision mechanism but does not alter appearance is still valid and is in fact supported by the data from Anton-Erxleben et al.
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