Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NYU psychology researchers show how attention enhances visual perception

10.02.2005


Researchers at New York University have determined the location in the brain where involuntary attention enhances visual processing. The researchers, from NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, found that attending to, or selectively processing information from a given location without directing our eyes to that location, enhances performance in visual tasks as well as the neural activity underlying the processing of ensuing images. The results are published in the latest issue of the journal Neuron.



A sudden appearance of an object in our visual field will grab our attention--causing an involuntary reaction. Taosheng Liu, Franco Pestilli, and Marisa Carrasco, the researchers for the Neuron study, have previously investigated this process. Behavioral research from the Carrasco lab has shown that involuntary, or transient, attention improves performance in simple, early visual processing tasks--it actually helps us see things better. The NYU study in Neuron shows the neural basis of this effect. It identifies an increase in neural activity in areas of the brain that respond to the attended stimulus--that is, to the information that is selectively processed at a given location.

In this study, the researchers presented observers with two patches simultaneously in the periphery of their line of sight on a computer display: one tilted (target) and one vertical (distracter). They were asked to indicate whether the target was tilted to the right or to the left. Each display was preceded by a cue that was either on the same (cued location) or the opposite (uncued location) side of the target [see diagram of experimental trial]. The purpose of the pre-cue was to automatically attract observers’ attention to its location. Importantly, the cue was completely uninformative regarding both target location and orientation, and observers were told so. Although there was no incentive to use the cue, observers still performed better when the target appeared at the cued location than when it appeared at the uncued location, confirming the reflexive nature of this type of attention orienting.


The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity while observers performed this task inside the MR scanner housed at the NYU Center for Brain Imaging. This technology allows scientists to map activity in the visual cortex [see diagram of brain]. This experiment revealed that when a cue preceded the target, the target evoked a larger brain response than when the cue appeared in the other location. It also showed the magnitude of the cueing effect increased from the earliest to later areas of visual processing [see graph].

Liu, who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Science and Technology of China, received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and currently is a postdoctoral researcher at NYU. Pestilli obtained his licentiate from the University of Rome and is an NYU doctoral student. Carrasco received her licentiate in psychology from the National University of Mexico before going on to receive her M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from Princeton University. She is a professor of psychology and neural science and chair of NYU’s Psychology Department.

James Devitt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nyu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>