Steven A. Hillyard's research while affiliated with University of California, San Diego and other places

Publications (220)

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There is much debate about the neural mechanisms that achieve suppression of salient distracting stimuli during visual search. The proactive suppression hypothesis asserts that if exposed to the same distractors repeatedly, these stimuli are actively inhibited before attention can be shifted to them. A contrasting proposal holds that attention is i...
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The neural processes that enable healthy humans to orient attention to sudden visual events are poorly understood because they are tightly intertwined with purely sensory processes. Here we isolated visually guided orienting activity from sensory activity using event-related potentials (ERPs). By recording ERPs to a lateral stimulus and comparing w...
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This study used electrophysiological measures to investigate how attention is deployed to target and distractor stimuli during visual search using search displays with a small set-size. Participants viewed randomized sequences of two-item displays that consisted of either a target and a distractor (differing in color) or a pair of task-irrelevant f...
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Background There is an active debate about the mechanism underlying the generation of event-related potentials, and, particularly, whether these are generated by additive components, independent of the background EEG, or the phase-resetting of ongoing oscillations. Method We present a new metric to evaluate trial-by-trial covariations of successiv...
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Recently, the discussion regarding the consequences of cutting the corpus callosum (“split-brain”) has regained momentum (Corballis, Corballis, Berlucchi, & Marzi, Brain, 141(6), e46, 2018; Pinto et al., Brain, 140(5), 1231–1237, 2017a; Pinto, Lamme, & de Haan, Brain, 140(11), e68, 2017; Volz & Gazzaniga, Brain, 140(7), 2051–2060, 2017; Volz, Hilly...
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Selective attention can enhance the processing of attended features across the entire visual field. Attention also spreads within objects, enhancing all internal locations and task-irrelevant features of selected objects. Here, we examine the extent to which attentional enhancement of a feature spreads across attended and unattended objects. Two fu...
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A sudden visual or acoustic change in the environment can capture attention involuntarily and facilitate perceptual processing of a subsequent visual target at the same location. The behavioral consequences of this involuntary (exogenous) cueing of attention have been well documented, but the underlying neural mechanisms and how they may differ dep...
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Identifying a fixed-feature singleton that pops out from an otherwise uniform array of distractors elicits an ERP component called the N2pc over the posterior scalp. The N2pc has been used to track attention with millisecond accuracy, inform theories of visual selection, and test for specific attention deficits in clinical populations, yet it is st...
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Auditory attention can be defined as the cognitive process that enables us to selectively focus on relevant aspects of the acoustic environment while other aspects are ignored. The remarkable ability of the auditory system to focus on one out of several speakers in a multispeaker environment has become known as the cocktail party effect. Although t...
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Objective:: The ability to perceive the motion of biological objects, such as faces, is a critical component of daily function and correlates with the ability to successfully navigate social situations (social cognition). Deficits in motion perception in schizophrenia were first demonstrated about 20 years ago but remain understudied, especially i...
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Tensions between global neuronal workspace theory and recurrent processing theory have sparked much debate in the field of consciousness research. Here, we focus on one of the key distinctions between these theories: the proposed relationship between attention and consciousness. By reviewing recent empirical evidence, we argue that both theories co...
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Action video game players (AVGPs) outperform non-action video game players (NAVGPs) on a range of perceptual and attentional tasks. Although several studies have reported neuroplastic changes within the frontoparietal networks of attention in AVGPs, little is known about possible changes in attentional modulation in low-level visual areas. To asses...
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Slotnick (this issue) has specified a number of experimental parameters that appear critical for enabling an attention-related modulation of the C1 component. These include stimulus presentation in the upper visual field, the presence of distractors, a high perceptual or attentional load, and measurements at midline occipito-parietal sites. While w...
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The thoughtful comments on our study (Baumgartner et al., this issue) that failed to replicate the C1 attention effect reported by Kelly et al. (2008) roughly fall into three broad categories. First, the commentators identified specific differences between the two studies that may have contributed to the discrepant results. Second, they highlighted...
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Whether visual spatial attention can modulate feedforward input to human primary visual cortex (V1) is debated. A prominent and long-standing hypothesis is that visual spatial attention can influence processing in V1, but only at delayed latencies suggesting a feedback-mediated mechanism and a lack of modulation during the initial afferent volley....
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Directing attention voluntarily to the location of a visual target results in an amplitude reduction (desynchronization) of the occipital alpha rhythm (8–14 Hz), which is predictive of improved perceptual processing of the target. Here we investigated whether modulations of the occipital alpha rhythm triggered by the involuntary orienting of attent...
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Visual attention can be attracted automatically by salient simple features, but whether and how nonsalient complex stimuli such as shapes may capture attention in humans remains unclear. Here, we present strong electrophysiological evidence that a nonsalient shape presented among similar shapes can provoke a robust and persistent capture of attenti...
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Recent findings suggest that a salient, irrelevant sound attracts attention to its location involuntarily and facilitates processing of a colocalized visual event [McDonald, J. J., Störmer, V. S., Martinez, A., Feng, W. F., & Hillyard, S. A. Salient sounds activate human visual cortex automatically. Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 9194-9201, 2013; McD...
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Neurophysiological studies with animals suggest that sounds modulate activity in primary visual cortex in the presence of concurrent visual stimulation. Non-invasive neuroimaging studies in humans have similarly shown that sounds modulate activity in visual areas even in the absence of visual stimuli or visual task demands. However, the spatial and...
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Paying attention to visual stimuli is typically accompanied by event-related desynchronizations (ERD) of ongoing alpha (7–14 Hz) activity in visual cortex. The present study used time-frequency based analyses to investigate the role of impaired alpha ERD in visual processing deficits in schizophrenia (Sz). Subjects viewed sinusoidal gratings of hig...
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Unlabelled: Experiments that study feature-based attention have often examined situations in which selection is based on a single feature (e.g., the color red). However, in more complex situations relevant stimuli may not be set apart from other stimuli by a single defining property but by a specific combination of features. Here, we examined sust...
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This article reviews a series of experiments that combined behavioral and electrophysiological recording techniques to explore the hypothesis that salient sounds attract attention automatically and facilitate the processing of visual stimuli at the sound's location. This cross-modal capture of visual attention was found to occur even when the attra...
Chapter
The fifth edition of a work that defines the field of cognitive neuroscience, with entirely new material that reflects recent advances in the field. Each edition of this classic reference has proved to be a benchmark in the developing field of cognitive neuroscience. The fifth edition of The Cognitive Neurosciences continues to chart new directions...
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To isolate neural correlates of conscious perception (NCCs), a standard approach has been to contrast neural activity elicited by identical stimuli of which subjects are aware vs. unaware. Because conscious experience is private, determining whether a stimulus was consciously perceived requires subjective report: e.g., button-presses indicating det...
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Contour integration refers to the mid-level visual process in which spatially-separate edge information is grouped together to form object boundaries. Whether contour integration occurs automatically at an early stage of processing in the absence of attention or awareness is currently debated. Previous event-related potential (ERP) experiments have...
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A recent study in humans (McDonald et al., 2013) found that peripheral, task-irrelevant sounds activated contralateral visual cortex automatically as revealed by an auditory-evoked contralateral occipital positivity (ACOP) recorded from the scalp. The present study investigated the functional significance of this cross-modal activation of visual co...
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A growing body of research suggests that the predictive power of working memory (WM) capacity for measures of intellectual aptitude is due to the ability to control attention and select relevant information. Crucially, attentional mechanisms implicated in controlling access to WM are assumed to be domain-general, yet reports of enhanced attentional...
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This study investigated the effects of attentional load on neural responses to attended and irrelevant visual stimuli by recording high-density event-related potentials (ERPs) from the scalp in normal adult subjects. Peripheral (upper and lower visual field) and central stimuli were presented in random order at a rapid rate while subjects responded...
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Spatial frequency (SF) selection has long been recognized to play a role in global and local processing, though the nature of the relationship between SF processing and global/local perception is debated. Previous studies have shown that attention to relatively lower SFs facilitates global perception, and that attention to relatively higher SFs fac...
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Object-based theories of attention propose that the selection of an object's feature leads to the rapid selection of all other constituent features, even those that are task irrelevant. We used magnetoencephalographic recordings to examine the timing and sequencing of neural activity patterns in feature-specific cortical areas as human subjects per...
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In many common situations such as driving an automobile it is advantageous to attend concurrently to events at different locations (e.g., the car in front, the pedestrian to the side). While spatial attention can be divided effectively between separate locations, studies investigating attention to nonspatial features have often reported a "global e...
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Multisensory interactions can lead to illusory percepts, as exemplified by the sound-induced extra flash illusion (SIFI: Shams et al., 2000, 2002). In this illusion, an audio-visual stimulus sequence consisting of two pulsed sounds and a light flash presented within a 100 ms time window generates the visual percept of two flashes. Here, we used col...
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A key prediction of object-based models of attention is that paying attention to one feature of an object results in the preferential selection of the entire object, including its features that are task irrelevant. Using event-related brain potentials, we investigated the timing of the selection of a task-irrelevant color feature while subjects dis...
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Several recent studies have shown that the perceptual influences of a peripheral cue can extend beyond the cue's modality. This chapter reviews recent studies of cross-modal attention capture, with an emphasis on studies that demonstrate auditory cueing effects on the perceptual and neural processing of visual stimuli. Psychophysical findings indic...
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The way we perceive an object depends both on feedforward, bottom-up processing of its physical stimulus properties and on top-down factors such as attention, context, expectation, and task relevance. Here we compared neural activity elicited by varying perceptions of the same physical image-a bistable moving image in which perception spontaneously...
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Sudden changes in the acoustic environment enhance perceptual processing of subsequent visual stimuli that appear in close spatial proximity. Little is known, however, about the neural mechanisms by which salient sounds affect visual processing. In particular, it is unclear whether such sounds automatically activate visual cortex. To shed light on...
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Recordings of event-related potentials (ERPs) were combined with structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the timing and localization of stimulus selection processes during visual-spatial attention to pattern-reversing gratings. Pattern reversals were presented in random order to the left and right visual fields at...
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In a previous study of visual-spatial attention, Martinez et al. (2007) replicated the well-known finding that stimuli at attended locations elicit enlarged early components in the averaged event-related potential (ERP), which were localized to extrastriate visual cortex. The mechanisms that underlie these attention-related ERP modulations in the l...
Chapter
In this chapter, we review studies that have extended the RT-based chronometric investigation of cross-modal spatial attention by utilizing psychophysical measures that better isolate perceptual-level processes. In addition, neurophysiological and neuroimaging methods have been combined with these psychophysical approaches to identify changes in ne...
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Our senses interact in daily life through multisensory integration, facilitating perceptual processes and behavioral responses. Numerous multisensory regions have been identified in humans and animals, raising the question of whether a single mechanism can support the dynamic range of experiences and behaviors multisensory processing engenders. The...
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Schizophrenia is associated with perceptual and cognitive dysfunction including impairments in visual attention. These impairments may be related to deficits in early stages of sensory/perceptual processing, particularly within the magnocellular/dorsal visual pathway. In the present study, subjects viewed high and low spatial frequency (SF) grating...
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An inattentional blindness paradigm was adapted to measure ERPs elicited by visual contour patterns that were or were not consciously perceived. In the first phase of the experiment, subjects performed an attentionally demanding task while task-irrelevant line segments formed square-shaped patterns or random configurations. After the square pattern...
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Steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) were recorded from action videogame players (VGPs) and from non-videogame players (NVGPs) during an attention-demanding task. Participants were presented with a multi-stimulus display consisting of rapid sequences of alphanumeric stimuli presented at rates of 8.6/12 Hz in the left/right peripheral visu...
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The sections in this article are:
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Anatomically "early" visual areas including striate cortex (V1) are known to play a role in the resolution of binocular rivalry. However, the time course of such activity and its relationship with subjective perception are unclear. The present study used an intermittent stimulation design to measure event-related potentials (ERPs) associated with p...
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In a series of three experiments, we recorded ERPs associated with subjects' perception of or attention to the faces or the vase in the ambiguous face-vase figure. In the first experiment, subjects viewed the face-vase figure and reported their perceptions by pressing one of two buttons. Each button-press immediately triggered a probe flash to eith...
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Mike Gazzaniga, along with his colleagues Roger W. Sperry and Joseph Bogen, revealed that the two separate mental systems, one in each hemisphere, were created by the surgical bisection of the forebrain. This was based on the neuropsychological studies of split-brain patients who had undergone cerebral commissurotomy. Gazzaniga found that the left...
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The temporal sequence of neural processes supporting figure-ground perception was investigated by recording ERPs associated with subjects' perceptions of the face-vase figure. In Experiment 1, subjects continuously reported whether they perceived the face or the vase as the foreground figure by pressing one of two buttons. Each button press trigger...
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The question of whether attention makes sensory impressions appear more intense has been a matter of debate for over a century. Recent psychophysical studies have reported that attention increases apparent contrast of visual stimuli, but the issue continues to be debated. We obtained converging neurophysiological evidence from human observers as th...
Chapter
The fourth edition of the work that defines the field of cognitive neuroscience, offering completely new material. Each edition of this classic reference has proved to be a benchmark in the developing field of cognitive neuroscience. The fourth edition of The Cognitive Neurosciences continues to chart new directions in the study of the biologic und...
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Full-text available
The ability to selectively attend to one sound and ignore other competing sounds is essential for auditory communication. Subjects in our study detected occasional changes in the frequency of amplitude modulation in sounds presented to one ear while ignoring sounds in the other ear. Neuromagnetic source analysis revealed attention-related activity...
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When a single flash of light is presented interposed between two brief auditory stimuli separated by 60-100 msec, subjects typically report perceiving two flashes [Shams, L., Kamitani, Y., & Shimojo, S. Visual illusion induced by sound. Brain Research, Cognitive Brain Research, 14, 147-152, 2002; Shams, L., Kamitani, Y., & Shimojo, S. Illusions. Wh...
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It is well-established that attention can select stimuli for preferential processing on the basis of non-spatial features such as color, orientation, or direction of motion. Evidence is mixed, however, as to whether feature-selective attention acts by increasing the signal strength of to-be-attended features irrespective of their spatial locations...
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Multistable perception occurs when a single physical stimulus leads to two or more distinct percepts that spontaneously switch (reverse). Previous ERP studies have reported reversal negativities and late positive components associated with perceptual reversals. The goal of the current study was to localize the neural generators of the reversal ERP...
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Studying the human visual system with high temporal resolution is a significant challenge due to the limitations of the available, noninvasive measurement tools. MEG and EEG provide the millisecond temporal resolution necessary for answering questions about intracortical communication involved in visual processing, but source estimation is ill-pose...
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Successfully locating a dangerous or desirable object within a cluttered visual scene is a commonplace yet highly adaptive skill. In the laboratory, this ability is modeled by visual search experiments in which subjects try to find a target item surrounded by an array of distracting stimuli. Under certain conditions, targets that are distinguishabl...