August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
Attention increases salience and biases decisions but does not alter appearance.
Author Affiliations
  • Keith Schneider
    York University
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 1388. doi:10.1167/12.9.1388
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      Keith Schneider; Attention increases salience and biases decisions but does not alter appearance.. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1388. doi: 10.1167/12.9.1388.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Attention enhances our perceptual abilities and increases neural activity. Still debated is whether an attended object, given its higher salience and more robust representation, actually looks any different than an otherwise identical but unattended object. One might expect that this question could be easily answered by an experiment in which an observer is presented two stimuli differing along one dimension, contrast for example, to one of which attention has been directed, and must report which stimulus has the higher apparent contrast. The problem with this sort of comparative judgment is that in the most informative case, that in which the two stimuli are equal, the observer is also maximally uncertain and therefore most susceptible to extraneous influence. An intelligent observer might report, all other things being equal, that the stimulus about which he or she has more information is the one with higher contrast. (And it doesn't help to ask which stimulus has the lower contrast, because then the observer might just report the less informed stimulus!) In this way, attention can bias the decision mechanism and confound the experiment such that it is not possible for the experimenter to differentiate this bias from an actual change in appearance. It has been over ten years since I proposed a solution to this dilemma—an equality judgment task in which observers report whether the two stimuli are equal in appearance or not. This paradigm has been supported in the literature and has withstood criticisms. Here I will review these findings.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012


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