Pitting binding against selection--electrophysiological measures of feature-based attention are attenuated by Gestalt object grouping.

Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.
European Journal of Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.75). 03/2012; 35(6):960-7. DOI:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2012.08016.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Humans have limited cognitive resources to process the nearly limitless information available in the environment. Endogenous, or 'top-down', selective attention to basic visual features such as color or motion is a common strategy for biasing resources in favor of the most relevant information sources in a given context. Opposing this top-down separation of features is a 'bottom-up' tendency to integrate, or bind, the various features that constitute objects. We pitted these two processes against each other in an electrophysiological experiment to test if top-down selective attention can overcome constitutive binding processes. Our results demonstrate that bottom-up binding processes can dominate top-down feature-based attention even when explicitly detrimental to task performance.

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    ABSTRACT: A large body of evidence supports that visual attention - the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on a salient or task-relevant subset of visual information - often works on object-based representation. Recent studies have postulated two possible accounts for the object-specific attentional advantage: attentional spreading and attentional prioritization, each of which modulates a bottom-up signal for sensory processing and a top-down signal for attentional allocation, respectively. It is still unclear which account can explain the object-specific attentional advantage. To address this issue, we examined the influence of object-specific advantage on two types of visual search: parallel search, invoked when a bottom-up signal is fully available at a target location, and serial search, invoked when a bottom-up signal is not enough to guide target selection and a top-down control for shifting of focused attention is required. Our results revealed that the object-specific advantage is given to the serial search but not to the parallel search, suggesting that object-based attention facilitates stimulus processing by affecting the priority of attentional shifts rather than by enhancing sensory signals. Thus, our findings support the notion that the object-specific attentional advantage can be explained by attentional prioritization but not attentional spreading.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 01/2014; 8:90. · 2.91 Impact Factor


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Jan 11, 2013