Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

The Role of Selective Attention in the Perception of Multiple Element Stimulus Arrays

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

The Role of Selective Attention in the Perception of Multiple Element Stimulus Arrays

Article excerpt

The perception of multiple - element stimulus arrays poses several computational problems that become especially evident when the nature of the neural representation in visual cortex is considered. In particular, objects appear to be represented by the pattern of activity across large populations of feature - sensitive neurons, and many of these neurons have large receptive fields. As a result, the simultaneous presentation of multiple objects will lead to the concurrent activation of many stimulus features, and the large receptive fields may make it difficult to determine which features belong to which objects (the "binding problem"). In addition, individual neurons tend to be relatively broadly tuned for their preferred features, and this can lead to errors in feature coding when multiple objects are presented simultaneously (the "noise problem"). Recent studies of electrophysiological activity in monkeys and in humans suggest that attentional mechanisms may solve these computational problems by confining processing to a single stimulus and suppressing information arising from competing inputs.

To access the role of attention in visual processing, we have recorded single - unit activity from area V4 of visual cortex in macaque monkeys, and the results of these experiments provide a clear demonstration of the relationship between inter - stimulus competition and attention. …

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