Visual attention: the past 25 years

Vision Res. 2011 Jul 1;51(13):1484-525. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2011.04.012. Epub 2011 Apr 28.


This review focuses on covert attention and how it alters early vision. I explain why attention is considered a selective process, the constructs of covert attention, spatial endogenous and exogenous attention, and feature-based attention. I explain how in the last 25 years research on attention has characterized the effects of covert attention on spatial filters and how attention influences the selection of stimuli of interest. This review includes the effects of spatial attention on discriminability and appearance in tasks mediated by contrast sensitivity and spatial resolution; the effects of feature-based attention on basic visual processes, and a comparison of the effects of spatial and feature-based attention. The emphasis of this review is on psychophysical studies, but relevant electrophysiological and neuroimaging studies and models regarding how and where neuronal responses are modulated are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychophysics* / history
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*