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Sam Ling; Attention alters appearance. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1387. doi: 10.1167/12.9.1387.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Maintaining veridicality seems to be of relatively low priority for the human brain; starting at the retina, our neural representations of the physical world undergo dramatic transformations, often forgoing an accurate depiction of the world in favor of augmented signals that are more optimal for the task at hand. Indeed, visual attention has been suggested to play a key role in this process, boosting the neural representations of attended stimuli, and attenuating responses to ignored stimuli. What, however, are the phenomenological consequences of attentional modulation? I will discuss a series of studies that we and others have conducted, all converging on the notion that attention can actually change the visual appearance of attended stimuli across a variety of perceptual domains, such as contrast, spatial frequency, and color. These studies reveal that visual attention not only changes our neural representations, but that it can actually affect what we think we see.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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