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Leila Reddy, Patrick Wilken, Christof Koch; Face-gender discrimination is possible in the near-absence of attention. Journal of Vision 2004;4(2):4. doi: 10.1167/4.2.4.
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The attentional cost associated with the visual discrimination of the gender of a face was investigated. Participants performed a face-gender discrimination task either alone (single-task) or concurrently (dual-task) with a known attentional demanding task (5-letter T/L discrimination). Overall performance on face-gender discrimination suffered remarkably little under the dual-task condition compared to the single-task condition. Similar results were obtained in experiments that controlled for potential training effects or the use of low-level cues in this discrimination task. Our results provide further evidence against the notion that only low-level representations can be accessed outside the focus of attention.
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