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Poppy Sharp, David Melcher, Clayton Hickey; Selective attention modulates the temporal window of integration. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1319. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.10.1319.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Constructing useful representations of our visual environment requires the ability to selectively pay attention to particular locations at specific moments. Whilst there has been much investigation on the influence of selective attention on spatial discrimination, less is known about its influence on temporal discrimination. In particular, little is known about how attention influences two fundamental and opposing temporal processes: segregation – the parsing of the visual scene over time into separate features, and integration - the binding together of related elements. In three experiments, we tested whether selective attention to a location can influence both of these opposing processes. The first experiment used a variant of the two flash fusion paradigm in which participants were cued to a spatial location at which the target(s) were likely to appear, and subsequently had to indicate whether they had seen a single target or two rapidly presented sequential targets. The second and third experiments used a paradigm in which participants were spatially cued to facilitate detection of a target in two rapidly presented sequential displays. Crucially, there were two types of targets present in each trial: a target for the segregation version of the task, and one for integration. As such, visual stimulation was the same across trials, whereas the appropriate processing strategy depended on current goals. In all experiments, there was a strong cueing effect on accuracy, including a cueing effect on both segregation and integration. These results support the hypothesis that selective attention can influence both of these opposing processes, effectively shrinking or expanding the integration window in line with task goals. The finding has implications for arbitrating between accounts of the multiple modulatory mechanisms comprising selective attention.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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