Neural Mechanisms of Selective Visual Attention

Annu Rev Psychol. 2017 Jan 3;68:47-72. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-122414-033400.

Abstract

Selective visual attention describes the tendency of visual processing to be confined largely to stimuli that are relevant to behavior. It is among the most fundamental of cognitive functions, particularly in humans and other primates for whom vision is the dominant sense. We review recent progress in identifying the neural mechanisms of selective visual attention. We discuss evidence from studies of different varieties of selective attention and examine how these varieties alter the processing of stimuli by neurons within the visual system, current knowledge of their causal basis, and methods for assessing attentional dysfunctions. In addition, we identify some key questions that remain in identifying the neural mechanisms that give rise to the selective processing of visual information.

Keywords: cognition; neural circuits; orienting; sensory processing; visual perception.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Visual Perception / physiology*