How attention enhances spatial resolution: Evidence from selective adaptation to spatial frequency
- Cite this article as:
- Carrasco, M., Loula, F. & Ho, YX. Perception & Psychophysics (2006) 68: 1004. doi:10.3758/BF03193361
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In this study, we investigated how spatial resolution and covert attention affect performance in a texture segmentation task in which performance peaks at midperiphery and drops at peripheral and central retinal locations. The central impairment is called thecentral performance drop (CPD; Kehrer, 1989). It has been established that attending to the target location improves performance in the periphery where resolution is too low for the task, but impairs it at central locations where resolution is too high. This is called thecentral attention impairment (CAI; Yeshurun & Carrasco, 1998, 2000). We employed a cuing procedure in conjunction with selective adaptation to explore (1) whether the CPD is due to the inhibition of low spatial frequency responses by high spatial frequency responses in central locations, and (2) whether the CAI is due to attention’s shifting sensitivity to higher spatial frequencies. We found that adaptation to low spatial frequencies does not change performance in this texture segmentation task. However, adaptation to high spatial frequencies diminishes the CPD and eliminates the CAI. These results indicate that the CPD is primarily due to the dominance of high spatial frequency responses and that covert attention enhances spatial resolution by shifting sensitivity to higher spatial frequencies.