Attention-based motion perception

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Science  11 Sep 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5076, pp. 1563-1565
DOI: 10.1126/science.1523411


Two "attentive" tracking tasks reveal the existence of an attention-based motion process. In the first task, oppositely rotating luminance and color gratings were superimposed. Because of masking from the color grating, the bars of the luminance grating were not visible; nevertheless, their motion was visible and it determined the perceived direction of the stimulus rotation. On the other hand, the bars of the color grating were visible but they could only be seen to move (in the opposite direction to the overall stimulus rotation) when they were tracked with attention. In a second task, the perceived velocity of a color grating, typically slow at equiluminance, speeded up when individual bars were attentively tracked. These findings demonstrate two independent motion processes: one that is "low-level" or automatic in that it signals motion even in the absence of attention to the stimulus, and one that is mediated by attention to visible features and provides accurate velocity judgments independently of the features being tracked.

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