September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Can attention impair temporal resolution? A spatiotemporal confusion account of temporal impairment following a brief cue
Author Affiliations
  • Louisa A. Talipski
    The Australian National University
  • Stephanie C. Goodhew
    The Australian National University
  • Mark Edwards
    The Australian National University
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2468. doi:
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      Louisa A. Talipski, Stephanie C. Goodhew, Mark Edwards; Can attention impair temporal resolution? A spatiotemporal confusion account of temporal impairment following a brief cue. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2468.

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

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Attention is known to enhance many aspects of visual perception. In contrast, however, some authors have claimed that attention elicited by an exogenous cue harms temporal resolution (i.e., the ability to perceive variation in luminance across time). In this study, we examined the possibility that this temporal impairment is not a consequence of attention, but of “spatiotemporal confusion”: participants mistaking the temporal signal provided by the cue’s onset and/or offset for that generated by the target, a possibility that is especially likely when the cue and target are temporally and spatially proximal. We used four attentional cues that differed in their spatial proximity to the target—small and large peripherally presented frames, and centrally presented arrow and gaze cues—and examined the effects of cueing on temporal gap-detection performance, a task which requires participants to distinguish between a single versus a double abrupt luminance change across time. The two peripheral cues flashed on and off prior to target onset, while the two central cues remained on the display until response. Results from a simple reaction-time detection task revealed that all four cues were capable of shifting attention. However, only the two peripheral cues—that is, the cues that were most spatially proximal to the target—generated a temporal impairment on the temporal gap-detection task. When the peripheral cues remained on the screen until response—and therefore spatiotemporal confusion was minimized through eliminating the luminance change associated with cue offset—no effect of cueing on the temporal gap-detection task was observed, even though the evidence indicated that these cues still produced an attentional shift. These results provide strong evidence that the temporal impairment is not attentional in origin, which, in turn, fundamentally challenges models of attention that claim differential effects of cueing on spatial and temporal resolution.


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