A monocular, unconscious form of visual attention

M.W. Self, P.R. Roelfsema

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Sudden changes in our visual field capture our attention so that we are faster and more accurate in our responses to that region of space. The underlying mechanisms by which these behavioral improvements occur are unknown. Here we investigate the level of the visual system at which attentional capture first occurs by presenting cues to one eye and then a target to either the same or the opposite eye. We show that monocular cues initially only shorten response time if the target is presented in the same eye as the cue suggesting that the initial capture of attention occurs at monocular levels of the visual system. We use dual-cues that cannot be distinguished by binocular parts of the visual system but are detectable at monocular levels to show that performance enhancements occur entirely unconsciously and are not due to local sensory interactions. Furthermore, we show that the spatial and temporal properties of the new monocular cueing effect differ from standard binocular cueing. Our results inspire a monocular competition model where visual stimuli compete to generate a salience map at monocular levels of representation. © ARVO.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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