Covert attention effects on spatial resolution

Prog Brain Res. 2009;176:65-86. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(09)17605-7.


First, we review the characteristics of endogenous (sustained) and exogenous (transient) spatial covert attention. Then we examine the effects of these two types of attention on spatial resolution in a variety of tasks, such as acuity, visual search, and texture segmentation. Both types of covert attention enhance resolution; directing attention to a given location allows us to better resolve the fine details of the visual scene at that location. With exogenous attention, but not with endogenous attention, this is the case even when enhanced spatial resolution hampers performance. The enhanced resolution at the attended location comes about at the expense of lower resolution at the unattended locations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Ocular / physiology
  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Visual Fields / physiology*