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Action-Based Mechanisms of Attention

Steven P. Tipper, Louise A. Howard and George Houghton
Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences
Vol. 353, No. 1373, Brain Mechanisms of Selective Perception and Action (Aug. 29, 1998), pp. 1385-1393
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/56892
Page Count: 9
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Action-Based Mechanisms of Attention
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Abstract

Actions, which have effects in the external world, must be spatiotopically represented in the brain. The brain is capable of representing space in many different forms (e.g. retinotopic-, environment-, head- or shoulder-centred), but we maintain that actions are represented in action-centred space, meaning that, at the cellular level, the direction of movement is defined by the activity of cells. In reaching, for example, object location is defined as the direction and distance between the origin of the hand and the target. Most importantly, we argue that more than one task-relevant action can be evoked at any moment in time. Therefore, highly efficient selection processes that accurately link vision and action have had to evolve. Research is reviewed which supports the notion of action-based inhibitory mechanisms that select the target from competing distractors.

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