Effects of spatial and feature attention on disparity-rendered structure-from-motion stimuli in the human visual cortex.
Ip IB., Bridge H., Parker AJ.
An important advance in the study of visual attention has been the identification of a non-spatial component of attention that enhances the response to similar features or objects across the visual field. Here we test whether this non-spatial component can co-select individual features that are perceptually bound into a coherent object. We combined human psychophysics and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to demonstrate the ability to co-select individual features from perceptually coherent objects. Our study used binocular disparity and visual motion to define disparity structure-from-motion (dSFM) stimuli. Although the spatial attention system induced strong modulations of the fMRI response in visual regions, the non-spatial system's ability to co-select features of the dSFM stimulus was less pronounced and variable across subjects. Our results demonstrate that feature and global feature attention effects are variable across participants, suggesting that the feature attention system may be limited in its ability to automatically select features within the attended object. Careful comparison of the task design suggests that even minor differences in the perceptual task may be critical in revealing the presence of global feature attention.