Effects of selective attention on perceptual filling-in

J Cogn Neurosci. 2006 Mar;18(3):335-47. doi: 10.1162/089892906775990561.


After few seconds, a figure steadily presented in peripheral vision becomes perceptually filled-in by its background, as if it "disappeared". We report that directing attention to the color, shape, or location of a figure increased the probability of perceiving filling-in compared to unattended figures, without modifying the time required for filling-in. This effect could be augmented by boosting attention. Furthermore, the frequency distribution of filling-in response times for attended figures could be predicted by multiplying the frequencies of response times for unattended figures with a constant. We propose that, after failure of figure-ground segregation, the neural interpolation processes that produce perceptual filling-in are enhanced in attended figure regions. As filling-in processes are involved in surface perception, the present study demonstrates that even very early visual processes are subject to modulation by cognitive factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Color Perception
  • Form Perception
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Space Perception