Characterizing visual performance fields: effects of transient covert attention, spatial frequency, eccentricity, task and set size

Spat Vis. 2001;15(1):61-75. doi: 10.1163/15685680152692015.


We investigated whether transient covert attention would differentially affect 'performance fields' (shape depicted by percent correct performance at particular locations in the visual field) for orientation discrimination, detection and localization tasks, while manipulating a number of visual factors. We found that although attention improved overall performance, it did not affect performance fields. Two patterns were observed regardless of the presence of a local post-mask, the stimulus orientation, or the task. A horizontal-vertical anisotropy (HVA) became more pronounced as spatial frequency, eccentricity and set size increased. A vertical meridian asymmetry (VMA) became more pronounced as spatial frequency and eccentricity increased. We conclude that performance fields are determined by visual, rather than by transient attentional, constraints.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention*
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Set, Psychology
  • Size Perception / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Visual Fields / physiology*