Top-down Influences on Selective Attention across the Extended Visual Field

by Jing Feng

Institution: University of Toronto
Year: 2012
Keywords: selective attention; top-down influence; attentional visual field
Record ID: 1942316
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/31748


The research focuses on the role of top-down influences on selective attention across the attentional visual field. The attentional visual field is the subset of the visual field in which attentional processes take place. The size of the attentional visual field is relatively large compared to the areas considered by most empirical studies of visual attention to date. Three possible forms of top-down influence are examined: 1) the expectation of the size of the area in which the target is likely to occur; 2) the expectation of the direction in which the target is likely to occur; and 3) existing unconscious bias in the spatial distribution of attention. Results from Experiment 1 suggest that participants modify the size of the attended area according to their expectation of the location of the target. Experiment 2 demonstrates that focus of attention can be oriented toward the expected target direction. Experiment 3 reveals that, even when no conscious control is involved, the distribution of attention is biased toward certain areas. Theoretical considerations are discussed, including the introduction of a simple statistical model to assist in conceptualizing the modifications of the distribution of attention over the attentional visual field. Practical applications of the results are also discussed.