Electrophysiology of Visual Attention

  • Steven A. Hillyard
  • George R. Mangun
  • Steven J. Luck
  • Hans-Jochen Heinze


The ability of human observers to deploy their attention rapidly to selected portions of a visual scene has important consequences for perception. A rapidly expanding research literature has established that stimuli positioned at or near an attended location in the visual field are processed more efficiently than are stimuli at some distance from the focus of attention (for recent reviews, see Eriksen and Yeh, 1985; Prinzmetal et al., 1986). The enhanced processing of attended events may take the form of improved detection of faint stimuli, improved discrimination of stimulus features and patterns, or speeded motor responses to expected targets. This attentional process has been likened to a focal “spotlight” or “zoom lens” that facilitates the processing of stimuli within a circumscribed zone around the attended locus. In some cases, however, the zone of facilitation may take the form of a broader “gradient” of attention that has its peak at the attended location and drops off gradually across the visual field (Shulman et al., 1986). These faciliatory effects are not a consequence of eye movements toward the attended location, which must be strictly controlled in a proper experimental design.


Visual Attention Selective Attention Left Visual Field Visual Information Processing Stimulus Array 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven A. Hillyard
  • George R. Mangun
  • Steven J. Luck
  • Hans-Jochen Heinze

There are no affiliations available

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