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Paul F. Bulakowski, David W. Bressler, David Whitney; Shared attentional resources for global and local motion processing. Journal of Vision 2007;7(10):10. doi: 10.1167/7.10.10.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
One of the most important aspects of visual attention is its flexibility; our attentional “window” can be tuned to different spatial scales, allowing us to perceive large-scale global patterns and local features effortlessly. We investigated whether the perception of global and local motion competes for a common attentional resource. Subjects viewed arrays of individual moving Gabors that group to produce a global motion percept when subjects attended globally. When subjects attended locally, on the other hand, they could identify the direction of individual uncrowded Gabors. Subjects were required to devote their attention toward either scale of motion or divide it between global and local scales. We measured direction discrimination as a function of the validity of a precue, which was varied in opposite directions for global and local motion such that when the precue was valid for global motion, it was invalid for local motion and vice versa. There was a trade-off between global and local motion thresholds, such that increasing the validity of precues at one spatial scale simultaneously reduced thresholds at that spatial scale but increased thresholds at the other spatial scale. In a second experiment, we found a similar pattern of results for static-oriented Gabors: Attending to local orientation information impaired the subjects' ability to perceive globally defined orientation and vice versa. Thresholds were higher for orientation compared to motion, however, suggesting that motion discrimination in the first experiment was not driven by orientation information alone but by motion-specific processing. The results of these experiments demonstrate that a shared attentional resource flexibly moves between different spatial scales and allows for the perception of both local and global image features, whether these features are defined by motion or orientation.
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