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Moritz Stolte, Bahador Bahrami, Nilli Lavie; High perceptual load leads to both reduced gain and broader orientation tuning. Journal of Vision 2014;14(3):9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.3.9.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Due to its limited capacity, visual perception depends on the allocation of attention. The resultant phenomena of inattentional blindness, accompanied by reduced sensory visual cortex response to unattended stimuli in conditions of high perceptual load in the attended task, are now well established (Lavie, 2005; Lavie, 2010, for reviews). However, the underlying mechanisms for these effects remain to be elucidated. Specifically, is reduced perceptual processing under high perceptual load a result of reduced sensory signal gain, broader tuning, or both? We examined this question with psychophysical measures of orientation tuning under different levels of perceptual load in the task performed. Our results show that increased perceptual load leads to both reduced sensory signal and broadening of tuning. These results clarify the effects of attention on elementary visual perception and suggest that high perceptual load is critical for attentional effects on sensory tuning.
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