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Human attention filters for single colors.

  • Author(s): Sun, Peng;
  • Chubb, Charles;
  • Wright, Charles E;
  • Sperling, George
  • et al.

The visual images in the eyes contain much more information than the brain can process. An important selection mechanism is feature-based attention (FBA). FBA is best described by attention filters that specify precisely the extent to which items containing attended features are selectively processed and the extent to which items that do not contain the attended features are attenuated. The centroid-judgment paradigm enables quick, precise measurements of such human perceptual attention filters, analogous to transmission measurements of photographic color filters. Subjects use a mouse to locate the centroid-the center of gravity-of a briefly displayed cloud of dots and receive precise feedback. A subset of dots is distinguished by some characteristic, such as a different color, and subjects judge the centroid of only the distinguished subset (e.g., dots of a particular color). The analysis efficiently determines the precise weight in the judged centroid of dots of every color in the display (i.e., the attention filter for the particular attended color in that context). We report 32 attention filters for single colors. Attention filters that discriminate one saturated hue from among seven other equiluminant distractor hues are extraordinarily selective, achieving attended/unattended weight ratios >20:1. Attention filters for selecting a color that differs in saturation or lightness from distractors are much less selective than attention filters for hue (given equal discriminability of the colors), and their filter selectivities are proportional to the discriminability distance of neighboring colors, whereas in the same range hue attention-filter selectivity is virtually independent of discriminabilty.

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