Where and when matter in visual recognition

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2023 Feb;85(2):404-417. doi: 10.3758/s13414-022-02607-y. Epub 2022 Nov 4.


Our perceptual system processes only a selected subset of an incoming stream of stimuli due to sensory biases and limitations in spatial and temporal attention and working memory capacity. In this study, we investigated perceptual access to sensory information that was temporally predictable or unpredictable and spread across the visual field. In a visual recognition task, participants were presented with an array of different number of alphabetical stimuli that were followed by a probe with a delay. They had to indicate whether the probe was included in the stimulus-set or not. To test the impact of temporal attention, coloured cues that were displayed before the visual stimuli indicated the presentation onset of the stimulus-set. We found that temporal predictability of stimulus onset yields higher performance. In addition, recognition performance was biased across the visual field with higher performance for stimuli that were presented on the upper and right visual quadrants. Our findings demonstrate that recognition accuracy is enhanced by temporal cues and has an inherently asymmetric shape across the visual field.

Keywords: Attention: space-based; Attention: time-based; Visual working memory.

MeSH terms

  • Cues*
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Visual Fields
  • Visual Perception