Effects of spatial cuing on luminance detectability: psychophysical and electrophysiological evidence for early selection

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1994 Aug;20(4):887-904. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.20.4.887.


Three experiments were conducted to determine whether attention-related changes in luminance detectability reflect a modulation of early sensory processing. Experiments 1 and 2 used peripheral cues to direct attention and found substantial effects of cue validity on target detectability; these effects were consistent with a sensory-level locus of selection but not with certain memory- or decision-level mechanisms. In Experiment 3, event-related brain potentials were recorded in a similar paradigm using central cues, and attention was found to produce changes in sensory-evoked brain activity beginning within the 1st 100 ms of stimulus processing. These changes included both an enhancement of sensory responses to attended stimuli and a suppression of sensory responses to unattended stimuli; the enhancement and suppression effects were isolated to different neural responses, indicating that they may arise from independent attentional mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Brain / physiology
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Humans
  • Perceptual Masking
  • Space Perception
  • Spatial Behavior*
  • Visual Perception*