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Feature-Selective Attention Enhances Color Signals in Early Visual Areas of the Human Brain

M. M. Müller, S. Andersen, N. J. Trujillo, P. Valdés-Sosa, P. Malinowski and S. A. Hillyard
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 103, No. 38 (Sep. 19, 2006), pp. 14250-14254
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30052018
Page Count: 5
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Feature-Selective Attention Enhances Color Signals in Early Visual Areas of the Human Brain
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Abstract

We used an electrophysiological measure of selective stimulus processing (the steady-state visual evoked potential, SSVEP) to investigate feature-specific attention to color cues. Subjects viewed a display consisting of spatially intermingled red and blue dots that continually shifted their positions at random. The red and blue dots flickered at different frequencies and thereby elicited distinguishable SSVEP signals in the visual cortex. Paying attention selectively to either the red or blue dot population produced an enhanced amplitude of its frequency-tagged SSVEP, which was localized by source modeling to early levels of the visual cortex. A control experiment showed that this selection was based on color rather than flicker frequency cues. This signal amplification of attended color items provides an empirical basis for the rapid identification of feature conjunctions during visual search, as proposed by "guided search" models.

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