Feature-Based Attention Influences Later Temporal Perception

By Ono, Fuminori; Yamada, Kyoko et al. | Perception and Psychophysics, May 2007 | Go to article overview

Feature-Based Attention Influences Later Temporal Perception


Ono, Fuminori, Yamada, Kyoko, Chujo, Kazumitsu, Kawahara, Jun-Ichiro, Perception and Psychophysics


We investigated the influence of feature-based visual attention on later temporal perception. Although there is ample evidence that space-based attention modulates temporal perception, it is not known whether feature-based attention also serves this function. The present study combined a visual selection task with a temporal interval production task to determine whether feature-based attention interacted with temporal perception. The results indicated that temporal perception of visual stimuli depended on whether the same stimulus had been attended to or ignored in a previous visual selection task. The temporal production of previously ignored stimuli was longer than the temporal production of either previously attended to or novel stimuli. This is the first demonstration of the effect of feature-based attention on later temporal perception. We concluded that temporal perception is affected by previously ignored stimuli.

Several factors can influence the processing of the temporal characteristics of a visual stimulus. For example, previous studies have revealed that the perceived duration of briefly presented stimuli increases with their number (Mo, 1975), size (Mo & Michalski, 1972; Thomas & Cantor, 1975), complexity (Schiffman & Bobko, 1974), or familiarity (Avant, Lyman, & Antes, 1975). That is, the subjective duration increases when observers perceive the stimuli as more numerous, large, complex, and/or familiar. In addition to these changes in the physical attributes of stimuli, more recent studies have shown the effect of attention on the temporal perception of visual stimuli. For example, Mattes and Ulrich (1998) briefly presented a precue to direct visual spatial attention to a specific location, followed by a probe dot with varying cue validity. The task was to categorize the duration of the dot as short, medium, or long. Among other important findings, the result most relevant to the present study was that observers' judgments of duration increased with stimulus probability, suggesting that the perceived duration of a stimulus in an attended location was longer than that of one hi an unattended location (see also Chen & O'Neill, 2001; Enns, Brehaut, & Shore, 1999).

Although previous studies have presented robust effects of spatial attention on later temporal perception, the effect of feature-based attention on later temporal perception has not been studied. Because previous studies suggest that attention can also be selectively allocated to stimuli that match a particular feature, without shifts in the attended location (Moore & Egeth, 1998; Treue & Martinez-Trujillo, 1999), and because space-based attention interacts with temporal perception, it is worth asking whether featurebased attention also interacts with temporal perception. If so, we do not know whether feature-based attention and space-based attention affect temporal perception in the same ways. The present study was designed to examine this question.

We used the visual selection task devised by Raymond, Fenske, and Tavassoli (2003), who demonstrated that selective attention to a single stimulus in a pair of response alternatives modulates the subsequent emotional responses to that stimulus. Specifically, in Raymond et al.'s study, participants selected a target from two briefly presented stimuli, and then provided their emotional response (i.e., cheery or not) to a single test stimulus that had been presented in the previous selection task. It is important to note that the stimuli in the selection task were presented side by side, and the test stimulus in the estimation task was presented in the center of the screen. Thus, any difference in attending to or ignoring the stimuli should be attributable to the stimuli themselves. Results indicated that the stimuli previously presented as nontargets were rated as less cheerful than those previously presented as targets, suggesting that feature-based selective attention could drive emotional responses. …

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