The current study assessed the performance of a patient with right neglect (M.A.H.) across various manipulations of the flanker paradigm. When required to identify a central target in the presence of a unilateral flanker, M.A.H. responded to the flanking distractor on the left (ipsilesional) side as if it were the target, even when the flanker appeared at left peripheral locations. A right (contralesional) flanker did not affect central identification performance (Experiment 1). The "ipsilesional capture" effect persisted when pretrial location markers were introduced to make the flanker and target locations more clearly defined (Experiment 2). However, when the ipsilesional flanker appeared simultaneously with a contralesional flanker, central target detection improved to ceiling (Experiment 3). Interestingly, with these three-stimulus displays, congruency effects in reaction time only occurred in relation to the flanker on the contralesional side (Experiment 3), suggesting impaired response selectivity to ipsilesional stimuli. Congruency effects were produced on both sides only when the two flanking distractors grouped together (by both onset and offset, Experiment 4) and when the ipsilesional flanking distractor grouped with the target by onset (lone contra offset, Experiment 4). The results are attributed to ipsilesional capture in central target detection, which is offset by temporal grouping processes when another stimulus appears on the contralateral side.
Studies from our laboratory have shown that, relative to neutral objects, food-related objects kept in working memory (WM) are particularly effective in guiding attention to food stimuli (Higgs et al. in Appetite, 2012). Here, we used electrophysiological measurements to investigate the neural representation of food versus non-food items in WM. Subjects were presented with a cue (food or non-food item) to either attend to or hold in WM. Subsequently, they had to search for a target, while the target and distractor were each flanked by a picture of a food or non-food item. Behavioural data showed that a food cue held in WM modulated the deployment of visual attention to a search target more than a non-food cue, even though the cue was irrelevant for target selection. Electrophysiological measures of attention, memory and retention of memory (the P3, LPP and SPCN components) were larger when food was kept in WM, compared to non-food items. No such effect was observed in a priming task, when the initial cue was merely identified. Overall, our electrophysiological data are consistent with the suggestion that food stimuli are particularly strongly represented in the WM system.
Prior work has shown that simple perceptual match responses to pairings of shapes and labels are more efficient if the pairing is associated with the participant (e.g., circle-you) than if it is associated with another familiar person (e.g., square-friend). There is a similar advantage for matching associations with high-value rewards (circle-£9) versus low-value rewards (square-£1) (Sui, He, & Humphreys Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 38, 1105-1117, 2012). Here we evaluated the relations between the self- and reward-bias effects by introducing occasional trials in which the size of a shape was varied unexpectedly (large or small vs. a standard medium). Participants favored stimuli that were larger than the standard when stimuli were associated with the self, and this enhancement of self bias was predicted by the degree of self bias that participants showed to standard (medium) sized stimuli. Although we observed a correlation between the magnitudes of the self and reward biases over participants, reward-bias effects were not increased to large stimuli. The data suggest both overlapping and independent components of the self and reward biases, and that self biases are uniquely enhanced when stimuli increase in size, consistent with previously reported motivational biases favoring large stimuli.
Deficits in the ability to draw objects, despite apparently intact perception and motor abilities, are defined as constructional apraxia. Constructional deficits, often diagnosed based on performance on copying complex figures, have been reported in a range of pathologies, perhaps reflecting the contribution of several underlying factors to poor figure drawing. The current study provides a comprehensive analysis of brain-behavior relationships in drawing disorders based on data from a large cohort of subacute stroke patients (n = 358) using whole-brain voxel-wise statistical analyses linked to behavioral measures from a complex figure copy task. We found that (i) overall poor performance on figure copying was associated with subcortical lesions (BG and thalamus), (ii) lateralized deficits with respect to the midline of the viewer were associated with lesions within the posterior parietal lobule, and (iii) spatial positioning errors across the entire figure were associated with lesions within visual processing areas (lingual gyrus and calcarine) and the insula. Furthermore, deficits in reproducing global aspects of form were associated with damage to the right middle temporal gyrus, whereas deficits in representing local features were linked to the left hemisphere lesions within calcarine cortex (extending into the cuneus and precuneus), the insula, and the TPJ. The current study provides strong evidence that impairments in separate cognitive mechanisms (e.g., spatial coding, attention, motor execution, and planning) linked to different brain lesions contribute to poor performance on complex figure copying tasks. The data support the argument that drawing depends on several cognitive processes operating via discrete neuronal networks and that constructional problems as well as hierarchical and spatial representation deficits contribute to poor figure copying.
We examined relations between the processing of facial identity and emotion in own- and other-race faces, using a fully crossed design with participants from 3 different ethnicities. The benefits of redundant identity and emotion signals were evaluated and formally tested in relation to models of independent and coactive feature processing and measures of processing capacity for the different types of stimuli. There was evidence for coactive processing of identity and emotion that was linked to super capacity for own-race but not for other-race faces. In addition, the size of the redundancy gain for other-race faces varied with the amount of social contact participants had with individuals from the other race. The data demonstrate qualitative differences in the processing of facial identity and emotion cues in own and other races. The results also demonstrate that the level of integration of identity and emotion cues in faces may be determined by life experience and exposure to individuals of different ethnicities.
Neuropsychological tests of visual perception mostly assess high-level processes like object recognition. Object recognition, however, relies on distinct mid-level processes of perceptual organization that are only implicitly tested in classical tests. Furthermore, the psychometric properties of the existing instruments are limited. To fill this gap, the Leuven perceptual organization screening test (L-POST) was developed, in which a wide range of mid-level phenomena are measured in 15 subtests. In this study, we evaluated reliability and validity of the L-POST. Performance on the test is evaluated relative to a norm sample of more than 1,500 healthy control participants. Cronbach's alpha of the norm sample and test-retest correlations for 20 patients provide evidence for adequate reliability of L-POST performance. The convergent and discriminant validity of the test was assessed in 40 brain-damaged patients, whose performance on the L-POST was compared with standard clinical tests of visual perception and other measures of cognitive function. The L-POST showed high sensitivity to visual dysfunction and decreased performance was specific to visual problems. In conclusion, the L-POST is a reliable and valid screening test for perceptual organization. It offers a useful online tool for researchers and clinicians to get a broader overview of the mid-level processes that are preserved or disrupted in a given patient.
Spatial working memory problems are frequently reported following brain damage within both left and right hemispheres but with the severity often being grater in individuals with right hemisphere lesions. Clinically, deficits in spatial working memory have also been noted in patients with visuospatial disorders such as unilateral neglect. Here, we examined neural substrates of short-term memory for spatial locations based on the Corsi Block tapping task and the relationship with the visuospatial deficits of neglect and extinction in a group of chronic neuropsychological patients. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to distinguish shared and dissociate functional components. The neural substrates of spatial short-term memory deficits and the components identified by PCA were examined using whole brain voxel-based morphometry and tract-wise lesion deficits analyses. We found that bilateral lesions within occipital cortex (middle occipital gyrus) and right posterior parietal cortex, along with disconnection of the right parieto-temporal segment of arcuate fasciculus, were associated with low spatial memory span. A single component revealed by PCA accounted for over half of the variance and was linked to damage to right posterior brain regions (temporo-parietal junction, the inferior parietal lobule and middle temporal gyrus extending into middle occipital gyrus). We also found link to disconnections within several association pathways including the superior longitudinal fasciculus, arcuate fasciculus, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus and inferior longitudinal fasciculus. These results indicate that different visuospatial deficits converge into a single component mapped within posterior parietal areas and fronto-parietal white matter pathways. Furthermore, the data presented here fit with the role of posterior parietal cortex/temporo-parietal junction in maintaining a map of salient locations in space, with Corsi Block performance being impaired when the spatial map is damaged.
A memory rehabilitation study was conducted with two patients with contrasting impairments in verbal short-term memory (STM): one with impaired phonological STM (pSTM) and one with impaired semantic STM (sSTM). Two treatments were employed, each designed to improve separate aspects of STM: phonological and semantic. The pSTM treatment selectively improved sensitivity to phonological effects in STM, and the sSTM treatment brought about increased lexical effects on verbal STM performance. There was also some evidence of type-specific generalisation to sentence comprehension, in that the pSTM patient showed post-treatment improvement on sentence repetition after the pSTM treatment, and the sSTM patient showed improved sentence anomaly judgement after the sSTM but not the pSTM treatment. The findings are discussed in relation to theories on the components involved in STM, and the role of STM in sentence processing.
Attentional control over prepotent responses has previously been shown by manipulating the probability with which stimuli appear. Here, we examined whether prepotent responses to self-associated stimuli can be modulated by their frequency of occurrence. Participants were instructed to associate geometric shapes with the self, their mother, or a stranger before having to judge whether the sequential shape-label pairs matched or mismatched the instruction. The probability of the different shape-label pairs was varied. There was a robust advantage to self-related stimuli in all cases. Reducing the proportion of matched self pairs did not weaken performance with self-related stimuli, whereas reducing the frequency of either matched mother or stranger pairs hurt performance, relative to when the different match trials were equiprobable. In addition, while mother and stranger pairs jointly benefitted when they both occurred frequently, there were benefits only to self pairs when the frequency of self trials increased along with either mother or stranger trials. The results suggest that biases favoring self-related stimuli occur automatically, even when self-related stimuli have a low probability of occurrence, and that expectations to frequent, self-related stimuli operate in a relatively exclusive manner, minimizing biases to high-probability stimuli related to other people. In contrast, biases to high-familiarity stimuli (mother pairs) can be reduced when the items occur infrequently and they do not dominate expectations over other high-frequency stimuli.
The current research examined the influence of ingroup/outgroup categorization on brain event-related potentials measured during perceptual processing of own- and other-race faces. White participants performed a sequential matching task with upright and inverted faces belonging either to their own race (White) or to another race (Black) and affiliated with either their own university or another university by a preceding visual prime. Results demonstrated that the right-lateralized N170 component evoked by test faces was modulated by race and by social category: the N170 to own-race faces showed a larger inversion effect (i.e., latency delay for inverted faces) when the faces were categorized as other-university rather than own-university members; the N170 to other-race faces showed no modulation of its inversion effect by university affiliation. These results suggest that neural correlates of structural face encoding (as evidenced by the N170 inversion effects) can be modulated by both visual (racial) and nonvisual (social) ingroup/outgroup status.
In preview search when an observer ignores an early appearing set of distractors, there can subsequently be impeded detection of new targets that share the colour of this preview. This "negative carry-over effect" has been attributed to an active inhibitory process targeted against the old items and inadvertently their features. Here we extend negative carry-over effects to the case of stereoscopically defined surfaces of coplanar elements without common features. In Experiment 1 observers previewed distractors in one surface (1000ms), before being presented with the target and new distractors divided over the old and a new surface either above or below the old one. Participants were slower and less efficient to detect targets in the old surface. In Experiment 2 in both the first and second display the items were divided over two planes in the proportion 66/33% such that no new planes appeared following the preview, and there was no majority of items in any one plane in the final combined display. The results showed that participants were slower to detect the target when it occurred in the old majority surface. Experiment 3 held constant the 2D properties of the stimuli while varying the presence of binocular depth cues. The carry-over effect only occurred in the presence of binocular depth cues, ruling out any account of the results in terms of 2-D cues. The results suggest well formed surfaces in addition to simple features may be targets for inhibition in search.
An fMRI pair-adaptation paradigm was used to identify the brain regions linked to the apprehension of small and large numbers of items. Participants classified stimuli on the basis of their numerosities (fewer or more than five dots). We manipulated the type of repetition within pairs of dot arrays. Overall processing of pairs with small as opposed to large quantities was associated with a decreased BOLD response in the midline structures and inferior parietal cortex. The opposite pattern was observed in middle cingulate cortex. Pairs in which the same numerosity category was repeated, were associated with a decreased signal in the left prefrontal and the left inferior parietal cortices, compared with when numerosities changed. Repetitions of exact numerosities irrespective of sample size were associated with decreased responses in bi-lateral prefrontal, sensory-motor regions, posterior occipital and left intraparietal sulcus (IPS). More importantly, we found value-specific adaptation specific to repeated small quantity in the left lateral occipito-temporal cortex, irrespective of whether the exact same stimulus pattern repeated. Our results indicate that a large network of regions (including the IPS) support visual quantity processing independent of the number of items present; however assimilation of small quantities is associated with additional support from regions within the left occipito-temporal cortex. We propose that processing of small quantities is aided by a subitizing-specific network. This network may account for the increased processing efficiency often reported for numerosities in the subitizing range.
We tested how aging affects the integration of visual information from faces. Three groups of participants aged 20-30, 40-50, and 60-70 performed a divided attention task in which they had to detect the presence of a target facial identity or a target facial expression. Three target stimuli were used: (1) with the target identity but not the target expression, (2) with the target expression but not the target identity, and (3) with both the target identity and target expression (the redundant target condition). On nontarget trials the faces contained neither the target identity nor expression. All groups were faster in responding to a face containing both the target identity and emotion compared to faces containing either single target. Furthermore the redundancy gains for combined targets exceeded performance limits predicted by the independent processing of facial identity and emotion. These results are held across the age range. The results suggest that there is interactive processing of facial identity and emotion which is independent of the effects of cognitive aging. Older participants demonstrated reliably larger size of the redundancy gains compared to the young group that reflect a greater experience with faces. Alternative explanations are discussed.
Research on cognition in apathy has largely focused on executive functions. To the best of our knowledge, no studies have investigated the relationship between apathy symptoms and processes involved in social cognition. Apathy symptoms include attenuated emotional behaviour, low social engagement and social withdrawal, all of which may be linked to underlying socio-cognitive deficits.
According to perceptual load theory (Lavie, 2005) distractor interference is determined by the availability of attentional resources. If target processing does not exhaust resources (with low perceptual load) distractor processing will take place resulting in interference with a primary task; however, when target processing uses-up attentional capacity (with high perceptual load) interference can be avoided. An alternative account (Tsal and Benoni, 2010a) suggests that perceptual load effects can be based on distractor dilution by the mere presence of additional neutral items in high-load displays so that the effect is not driven by the amount of attention resources required for target processing. Here we tested whether patients with unilateral neglect or extinction would show dilution effects from neutral items in their contralesional (neglected/extinguished) field, even though these items do not impose increased perceptual load on the target and at the same time attract reduced attentional resources compared to stimuli in the ipsilesional field. Thus, such items do not affect the amount of attention resources available for distractor processing. We found that contralesional neutral elements can eliminate distractor interference as strongly as centrally presented ones in neglect/extinction patients, despite contralesional items being less well attended. The data are consistent with an account in terms of perceptual dilution of distracters rather than available resources for distractor processing. We conclude that distractor dilution can underlie the elimination of distractor interference in visual displays.
Computed tomographic (CT) images are widely used for the identification of abnormal brain tissue following infarct and hemorrhage in stroke. Manual lesion delineation is currently the standard approach, but is both time-consuming and operator-dependent. To address these issues, we present a method that can automatically delineate infarct and hemorrhage in stroke CT images. The key elements of this method are the accurate normalization of CT images from stroke patients into template space and the subsequent voxelwise comparison with a group of control CT images for defining areas with hypo- or hyper-intense signals. Our validation, using simulated and actual lesions, shows that our approach is effective in reconstructing lesions resulting from both infarct and hemorrhage and yields lesion maps spatially consistent with those produced manually by expert operators. A limitation is that, relative to manual delineation, there is reduced sensitivity of the automated method in regions close to the ventricles and the brain contours. However, the automated method presents a number of benefits in terms of offering significant time savings and the elimination of the inter-operator differences inherent to manual tracing approaches. These factors are relevant for the creation of large-scale lesion databases for neuropsychological research. The automated delineation of stroke lesions from CT scans may also enable longitudinal studies to quantify changes in damaged tissue in an objective and reproducible manner.
Patients with Balint' s syndrome are typically impaired at perceiving multiple objects simultaneously, and at evaluating the relationship between multiple objects in a scene (simultanagnosia). These deficits may not only be observed in complex scenes, but also when local elements of individual objects must be integrated into a perceptual global whole. Thus, unlike normal observers, patients with simultanagnosia typically show a bias towards the local forms, even to the extent that they cannot identify the global stimuli. However, we have previously shown that global processing is still attainable in Balint patients in certain scenarios (e.g., when local elements are unfamiliar). This suggests that in addition to a possible perceptual deficit that favors the local elements in these patients, impaired attentional control may be at the core of their unique performance. To test this hypothesis we manipulated the perceptual saliency of the local and global elements in a compound letter task so that it included global-more-salient or local-more-salient displays. We show that a Balint patient was able to accurately identify both global and local targets as long as they were the salient aspect of the compound letter. However, substantial impairment was evident when either the global or local elements were the less salient aspect of the compound letter. We conclude that in Balint' s syndrome there is a failure of flexible top-down attention both in biasing attention away from salient irrelevant aspects of the display (salience-based-selection) and in impaired disengagement from irrelevant but salient items once they have been selected.
Humans typically rely upon vision to identify object shape, but we can also recognize shape via touch (haptics). Our haptic shape recognition ability raises an intriguing question: To what extent do visual cortical shape recognition mechanisms support haptic object recognition? We addressed this question using a haptic fMRI repetition design, which allowed us to identify neuronal populations sensitive to the shape of objects that were touched but not seen. In addition to the expected shape-selective fMRI responses in dorsal frontoparietal areas, we observed widespread shape-selective responses in the ventral visual cortical pathway, including primary visual cortex. Our results indicate that shape processing via touch engages many of the same neural mechanisms as visual object recognition. The shape-specific repetition effects we observed in primary visual cortex show that visual sensory areas are engaged during the haptic exploration of object shape, even in the absence of concurrent shape-related visual input. Our results complement related findings in visually deprived individuals and highlight the fundamental role of the visual system in the processing of object shape.
Prior neuropsychological evidence suggests that semantic and phonological components of short-term memory (STM) are functionally and neurologically distinct. The current paper examines proactive interference (PI) from semantic and phonological information in two STM-impaired patients, DS (semantic STM deficit) and AK (phonological STM deficit). In Experiment 1 probe recognition tasks with open and closed sets of stimuli were used. Phonological PI was assessed using nonword items, and semantic and phonological PI was assessed using words. In Experiment 2 phonological and semantic PI was elicited by an item recognition probe test with stimuli that bore phonological and semantic relations to the probes. The data suggested heightened phonological PI for the semantic STM patient, and exaggerated effects of semantic PI in the phonological STM case. The findings are consistent with an account of extremely rapid decay of activated type-specific representations in cases of severely impaired phonological and semantic STM.
Perceptual learning is associated with experience-based changes in stimulus salience. Here, we use a novel procedure to show that learning a new association between a self-label and a neutral stimulus produces fast alterations in social salience measured by interference when targets associated with other people have to be selected in the presence of self-associated distractors. Participants associated neutral shapes with either themselves or a friend, over a short run of training trials. Subsequently, the shapes had to be identified in hierarchical (global-local) forms. The data show that giving a shape greater personal significance by associating it with the self had effects on visual selection equivalent to altering perceptual salience. Similar to previously observed effects linked to when perceptually salient distractors are ignored, effects of a self-associated distractor also increased activation in the left intraparietal cortex sulcus. The results show that self-associations to sensory stimuli rapidly modulate neural responses in a manner similar to changes in perceptual saliency. The self-association procedure provides a new way to understand how personal significance affects behavior.
Hierarchical models of visual processing assume that global pattern recognition is contingent on the progressive integration of local elements across larger spatial regions, operating from early through intermediate to higher-level cortical regions. Here, we present results from neuropsychological fMRI that refute such models. We report two patients, one with lesions to intermediate ventral regions and the other with damage around the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). The patient with ventral damage showed normal behavioral and BOLD responses to global Glass patterns. The patient with IPS damage was impaired in discriminating global patterns and showed a lack of significant responses to these patterns in intermediate visual regions spared by the lesion. However, this patient did show BOLD activity to translational patterns, where local element relations are important. These results suggest that activation of intermediate ventral regions is not necessary to code global patterns; instead global patterns are coded in a heterarchical fashion. High-level regions of dorsal cortex are necessary to generate global pattern coding in intermediate ventral regions; in contrast, local integration processes are not sufficient.
We review neuropsychological evidence for visual selection operating in different reference frames. There is general agreement that there may be a separation of coding space near to and farther from the body, and that deficits in selecting stimuli within each form of spatial representation may be impaired in patients with unilateral neglect. However, there remains a lack of consensus about whether all forms of spatial representation relate to the body or whether there are spatial representations based on reference frames abstracted from the body (allocentric and object-centered spatial codes). Here we will review the evidence for spatial coding in these more abstracted reference frames (allocentric and object-centered but also environmental) and argue for the psychological reality of (at least) allocentric spatial coding. We discuss computational accounts of how such codes may be created as objects are selected.
People make faster familiarity decisions for their own face compared with a familiar other. Lesion studies diverge on whether this self-face prioritization (SFP) effect is associated with functional processes isolated in the left or right hemispheres. To assess both decreases (hypo-) and increases (hyper-) in SFP after brain lesion, we asked patients with chronic deficits to perform familiarity judgments to images of their own face, a familiar other, or unfamiliar faces. Of 30 patients, 7 showed hypo- and 6 showed hyper-self-bias effects, comparing responses with their own faces versus responses with a familiar other. Hyper-self-bias correlated with reduced executive control function and, at a neural level, this was associated with lesions to the left prefrontal and superior temporal cortices. In contrast, reduced self-prioritization was associated with damage to the right inferior temporal structures including the hippocampus and extending to the fusiform gyrus. In addition, lesions affecting fibers crossing the right temporal cortex, potentially disconnecting occipital-temporal from frontal regions, diminished the self-bias effect. The data highlight that self-prioritized face processing is linked to regions in the right hemisphere associated with face recognition memory and it also calls on executive processes in the left hemisphere that normally modulate self-prioritized attention.
Successful choice under risk requires the integration of information about outcome probabilities and values and implicates a brain network including the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and posterior parietal cortex (pPAR). Damage to the vmPFC is linked to poor decision-making and increased risk-taking. Electrophysiological and neuroimaging data implicate the pPAR in the processing of reward probability during choice, but the causal contribution of this area has not been established. We compared patients with lesions to the pPAR (n = 13), vmPFC (n = 13), and healthy volunteers (n = 22) on the Roulette Betting Task, a measure of risk-sensitive decision-making. Both lesion groups were impaired in adjusting their bets to the probability of winning. This impairment was correlated with the extent of pPAR, but not vmPFC, damage. In addition, the vmPFC group chose higher bets than healthy controls overall, an effect that correlated with lesion volume in the medial orbitofrontal cortex. Both lesion groups earned fewer points than healthy controls. The groups did not differ on 2 tasks assessing probabilistic reasoning outside of a risk-reward context. Our results demonstrate the causal involvement of both the pPAR and vmPFC in risk-sensitive choice and indicate distinguishable roles of these areas in probability processing and risk appetite.
Adolescent sexual abusers are a heterogeneous group of offenders that often receive generic assessment and treatment services that are modeled on research findings from adult sex offender samples. The emotional Stroop task has been used to measure deviant sexual interest in adult samples. The purpose of the present study was to test whether the emotional Stroop task could also be used to assess deviant sexual interest in adolescent samples. Three groups of adolescents (a) sexual abusers (n = 24); (b) offending controls (n = 21); and (c) nonoffending controls (n = 21) completed two emotional Stroop tasks related to deviant sexual interest and tests of executive function. Adolescent sexual abusers were significantly slower to color-name some word stimuli than both adolescent offending controls and adolescent nonoffending controls. However, the task was unable to differentiate between the groups on most of the Stroop word categories. Very little research has been conducted with adolescent offender samples and the emotional Stroop task. Reaction time (RT) and Stroop bias outcome data for adolescent samples appear to be more unsystematic and weaker than has been observed in previous adult data. Based on potential difficulties with reading and development, the emotional Stroop task may not be a task suitable for measuring deviant sexual interest in adolescent samples.
Visual search for a conjunction target can be made efficient by presenting one initial set of distractors as a preview, prior to the onset of the other items in the search display Watson & Humphreys (Psychological Review 104:90-122, 1997). However, this "preview advantage" is lost if the initial items are offset for a brief period before onsetting again with the search display Kunar, Humphreys, & Smith (Psychological Science 14:181-185, 2003). Researchers have long disputed whether the preview advantage reflects a process of internally coding and suppressing the old items or of the onset of the new items capturing attention Donk & Theeuwes (Perception & Psychophysics 63:891-900, 2001). In this study, we assessed whether an internally driven blink (in which participants close their eyes) acts in the same manner as an external blink produced by offsetting and then onsetting the preview. In the novel blink conditions, participants searched feature, conjunction, and preview displays after being cued to blink their eyes. The search displays were presented during the eye blink, and so were immediately available once participants opened their eyes. Having participants make an eye blink generally slowed search but had no effect on the search slopes. In contrast, imposing an externally driven blink disrupted preview search. The data indicated that visual attention can compensate for internally driven blinks, and this does not lead to the loss of the representations of distractors across time. Moreover, efficient preview search occurred when the search items had no abrupt onsets, demonstrating that onsets of new search items are not critical for the preview benefit.
We examined the ability of older adults to select local and global stimuli varying in perceptual saliency-a task requiring nonspatial visual selection. Participants were asked to identify in separate blocks a target at either the global or the local level of a hierarchical stimulus, while the saliency of each level was varied (across different conditions, either the local or the global form was the more salient and relatively easier to identify). Older adults were less efficient than young adults in ignoring distractors that were higher in saliency than were targets, and this occurred across both the global and local levels of form. The increased effects of distractor saliency on older adults occurred even when the effects were scaled by overall differences in task performance. The data provide evidence for an age-related decline in nonspatial attentional selection of low-salient hierarchical stimuli, not determined by the (global or local) level at which selection was required. We discuss the implications of these results for understanding both the interaction between saliency and hierarchical processing and the effects of aging on nonspatial visual attention.
Physiological evidence indicates that different visual features are computed quasi-independently. The subsequent step of binding features, to generate coherent perception, is typically considered a major rate-limiting process, confined to one location at a time and taking 25 ms per item or longer (A. Treisman & S. Gormican, 1988, Feature analysis in early vision: Evidence from search asymmetries, Psychological Review, Vol. 95, pp. 15-48). We examined whether these processing limitations remain once bindings are learned for familiar objects. Participants searched for objects that could appear either in familiar or unfamiliar colors. Objects in familiar colors were detected efficiently at rates consistent with simultaneous binding across multiple stimuli. Processing limitations were evident for objects in unfamiliar colors. The advantage for the learned color for known targets was eliminated when participants searched for geometric shapes carrying the object colors and when the colors fell in local background areas around the shapes. The effect occurred irrespective of whether the nontargets had familiar colors, but was largest when nontargets had incorrect colors. The efficient search for targets in familiar colors held, even when the search was biased to favor objects in unfamiliar colors. The data indicate that learned bindings can be computed with minimal attentional limitations, consistent with the direct activation of learned conjunctive representations in vision.
We report data demonstrating that self-referential encoding facilitates memory performance in the absence of effects of semantic elaboration in a severely amnesic patient also suffering semantic problems. In Part 1, the patient, GA, was trained to associate items with the self or a familiar other during the encoding phase of a memory task (self-ownership decisions in Experiment 1 and self-evaluation decisions in Experiment 2). Tests of memory showed a consistent self-reference advantage, relative to a condition where the reference was another person in both experiments. The pattern of the self-reference advantage was similar to that in healthy controls. In Part 2 we demonstrate that GA showed minimal effects of semantic elaboration on memory for items he semantically classified, compared with items subject to physical size decisions; in contrast, healthy controls demonstrated enhanced memory performance after semantic relative to physical encoding. The results indicate that self-referential encoding, not semantic elaboration, improves memory in amnesia. Self-referential processing may provide a unique scaffold to help improve learning in amnesic cases.
Prior social psychological studies show that newly assigned personal significance can modulate high-level cognitive processes, e.g., memory and social evaluation, with self- and other-related information processed in dissociated prefrontal structure: ventral vs. dorsal, respectively. Here, we demonstrate the impact of personal significance on perception and show the neural network that supports this effect. We used an associative learning procedure in which we "tag" a neutral shape with a self-relevant label. Participants were instructed to associate three neutral shapes with labels for themselves, their best friend, or an unfamiliar other. Functional magnetic resonance imaging data were acquired while participants judged whether the shape-label pairs were maintained or swapped. Behaviorally, participants rapidly tagged a neutral stimulus with self-relevance, showing a robust advantage for self-tagged stimuli. Self-tagging responses were associated with enhanced activity in brain regions linked to self-representation [the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC)] and to sensory-driven regions associated with social attention [the left posterior superior temporal sulcus (LpSTS)]. In contrast, associations formed with other people recruited a dorsal frontoparietal control network, with the two networks being inversely correlated. Responses in the vmPFC and LpSTS predicted behavioral self-bias effects. Effective connectivity analyses showed that the vmPFC and the LpSTS were functionally coupled, with the strength of coupling associated with behavioral self-biases. The data show that assignment of personal social significance affects perceptual matching by coupling internal self-representations to brain regions modulating attentional responses to external stimuli.
We examined the frequency and severity of visual versus tactile extinction based on data from a large group of sub-acute patients (n=454) with strokes affecting different vascular territories. After right hemisphere damage visual and tactile extinction were equally common. However, after left hemisphere damage tactile extinction was more common than visual. The frequency of extinction was significantly higher in patients with right compared to left hemisphere damage in both visual and tactile modalities but this held only for strokes affecting the MCA and PCA territories and not for strokes affecting other vascular territories. Furthermore, the severity of extinction did not differ as a function of either the stimulus modality (visual versus tactile), the affected hemisphere (left versus right) or the stroke territory (MCA, PCA or other vascular territories). We conclude that the frequency but not severity of extinction in both modalities relates to the side of damage (i.e. left versus right hemisphere) and the vascular territories affected by the stroke, and that left hemisphere dominance for motor control may link to the greater incidence of tactile than visual extinction after left hemisphere stroke. We discuss the implications of our findings for understanding hemispheric lateralization within visuospatial attention networks.
We examined the effects of number magnitude (within vs. outside the subitizable range) and notation (symbolic vs. nonsymbolic number) on neural responses to visual displays in the human brain using fMRI at 7T. We found that the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) responded more strongly to small than to larger numbers (2, 4 > 6, 8), while there was greater activity bilaterally within and around the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) as number magnitude increased (6, 8 > 2, 4). The effects of number magnitude were greatest for nonsymbolic stimuli. In addition, there was striking overlap between rTPJ regions responding to small numbers and those most strongly activated by symbolic stimuli, and between IPS regions responding to large numbers and those most activated by nonsymbolic stimuli. The results are consistent with distinct neural processes recruited for the processing of small- and large-number magnitudes. Contributions due to differences in representing exact number (small nonsymbolic arrays and all symbolic numbers, in rTPJ) and overall magnitude (particularly with large nonsymbolic arrays, in IPS), and the associated theoretical implications of the findings, are discussed.
Patients who read in a letter-by-letter manner can demonstrate effects of lexical variables when reading words comprised of low confusability letters, suggesting the capacity to process low-confusability words in parallel across the letters (Fiset, Arguin, & McCabe, 2006). Here a series of experiments is presented investigating letter confusability effects in MAH, a patient with expressive and receptive aphasia who shows reduced reading accuracy with longer words, and DM, a relatively "pure" alexic patient. Two rehabilitation studies were employed: (i) a word-level therapy and (ii) a letter-level therapy designed to improve discrimination of individual letters. The word-level treatment produced generalised improvement to low-confusability words only, but the serial processing treatment produced improvement on both high and low confusability words. The results add support to the hypothesis that letter confusability plays a key role in letter-by-letter reading, and suggest that a rehabilitation method aimed at reducing ambiguities in letter identification may be particularly effective for treating letter-by-letter reading.
We examined the effect of hand grip on object recognition by studying the modulation of the mu rhythm when participants made object decisions to objects and non-objects shown with congruent or incongruent hand-grip actions. Despite the grip responses being irrelevant to the task, mu rhythm activity on the scalp over motor and pre-motor cortex was sensitive to the congruency of the hand grip-in particular the event-related desynchronization of the mu rhythm was more pronounced for familiar objects grasped with an appropriate grip than for objects given an inappropriate grasp. Also the power of mu activity correlated with RTs to congruently gripped objects. The results suggest that familiar motor responses evoked by the appropriateness of a hand grip facilitate recognition responses to objects.
In visual search, the detection of pop-out targets is facilitated when the target-defining dimension remains the same compared with when it changes across trials. We tested the brain regions necessary for these dimensional carry-over effects using a voxel-based morphometry study with brain-lesioned patients. Participants had to search for targets defined by either their colour (red or blue) or orientation (right- or left-tilted), and the target dimension either stayed the same or changed on consecutive trials. Twenty-five patients were categorized according to whether they showed an effect of dimensional change on search or not. The two groups did not differ with regard to their performance on several working memory tasks, and the dimensional carry-over effects were not correlated with working memory performance. With spatial, sustained attention and working memory deficits as well as lesion volume controlled, damage within the right inferior parietal lobule (the angular and supramarginal gyri) extending into the intraparietal sulcus was associated with an absence of dimensional carry-over (P < 0.001, cluster-level corrected for multiple comparisons). The data suggest that these regions of parietal cortex are necessary to implement attention shifting in the context of visual dimensional change.
We examined the relations between texture segregation and contour integration in patients with deficits in spatial attention leading to left or right hemisphere extinction. Patients and control participants were presented with texture and contour stimuli consisting of oriented elements. We induced regularity in the stimuli by manipulating the element orientations resulting in an implicit texture border or explicit contour. Participants had to discriminate curved from straight shapes without making eye movements, while the stimulus presentation time was varied using a QUEST procedure. The results showed that only patients with right hemisphere extinction had a spatial bias, needing a longer presentation time to determine the shape of the border or contour on the contralesional side, especially for borders defined by texture. These results indicate that texture segregation is modulated by attention-related brain areas in the right posterior parietal cortex.
We provide novel evidence for a two-stage model of visual search applied to the selection based on top-down cues to stimulus colour and orientation. The model supposes that visual displays are first parsed into colour based groups, a process that is modulated by the presence of an initial cue to the targets colour. Subsequently search is directed to other featural properties represented within the colour-based groups. Cues to the orientation of the target are only effective at this second stage. The results provide strong evidence that colour and orientation cues operate in different ways to guide search.
Previous studies show that positioning familiar pairs of objects for action ameliorates visual extinction in neuropsychological patients (Riddoch, Humphreys, Edwards, Baker, & Willson, 2003). This effect is stronger when objects are viewed from a self-perspective and are placed in locations congruent with the patients premorbid handedness (Humphreys, Wulff, Yoon, & Riddoch, 2010a), consistent with it being modulated by a motor response to the stimuli. There is also some evidence that extinction can be reduced with unfamiliar object pairs positioned for action (Riddoch et al. 2006), but the effects of reference frame and hand-object congruence have not been examined with such items. This was investigated in the present experiment. There was greater recovery from extinction when objects were action-related compared to when they were not, in line with previous studies. In addition, patients benefited more when they saw action-related pairs from a third-person than from a first-person perspective. Interestingly, on trials where extinction occurred, there was a bias reporting the active object on the extinguished side-a reversal of the standard pattern of extinction-but only when objects were seen from a self-perspective. The data show that several factors contribute to the effects of action relations on attention, depending upon the familiarity of the object pairs and the reference frame that stimuli have been seen in.
Extinction is diagnosed when patients respond to a single contralesional item but fail to detect this item when an ipsilesional item is present concurrently. Extinction has been studied mainly in the visual modality but it occurs also in other sensory modalities (touch, audition) and hence can be considered a multisensory phenomenon. The functional and neuroanatomical relations between extinction in different modalities are poorly understood. Here, we used voxel-based mophometry (VBM) to examine the neuronal substrates of visual versus tactile extinction in a large group of sub-acute patients (n = 454) with strokes affecting different vascular territories. We found that extinction deficits in tactile and visual modalities were significantly correlated (r = 0.341; p < 0.01). Several lesions within the right hemisphere were linked to extinction including the inferior parietal lobule, the superior parietal lobule, the middle frontal and occipital gyri, while lesions involving the superior temporal gyrus, inferior temporal gyrus and putamen were associated with tactile extinction. Damage within the middle temporal gyrus and superior temporal sulcus was linked to both deficits. We conclude that extinction in different modalities emerges after damage to both common (supra-modal) and distinct (modality specific) brain regions, and that contrasting sites emerge after damage to different vascular territories. We discuss the implications for understanding extinction as a multisensory disorder.
Motor extinction refers to a deficit of motor production on the side opposite a brain lesion that either only becomes apparent or disproportionately worsens during bilateral motor activity. It may arise due either to a contralesional deficit in setting the motor activation level (an intentional deficit) or a deficit in contralesional awareness of the sensory consequences of movement (an attentional deficit). In this study, we investigate the nature of motor extinction in a patient (LR) with a right fronto-temporal lesion through the kinematic analysis of unimanual and bimanual circle-drawing movements. While the ipsi- and contralesional limbs performed comparably for unimanual movements, the contralesional limb demonstrated marked bradykinesia and hypometria during bimanual movements. Furthermore, these deficits were not overcome when visual feedback of the contralesional limb was provided (Experiment 1). However, when performing bimanual movements in the presence of a visual template (Experiment 2), LR was able to overcome the contralesional hypometria but not the bradykinesia which proved intractable across both experiments. Both the bradykinesia and hypometria could result from an intentional deficit of motor production. However, in Experiment 2, LR also demonstrated an abnormal level of positional drift in the contralesional limb for bimanual movements indicative of an additional attentional deficit. We conclude that LRs presentation of motor extinction is the result of a primary intentional deficit and a secondary attentional deficit.
Actions taking place in the environment are critical for our survival. We review evidence on attention to action, drawing on sets of converging evidence from neuropsychological patients through to studies of the time course and neural locus of action-based cueing of attention in normal observers. We show that the presence of action relations between stimuli helps reduce visual extinction in patients with limited attention to the contralesional side of space, while the first saccades made by normal observers and early perceptual and attentional responses measured using electroencephalography/event-related potentials are modulated by preparation of action and by seeing objects being grasped correctly or incorrectly for action. With both normal observers and patients, there is evidence for two components to these effects based on both visual perceptual and motor-based responses. While the perceptual responses reflect factors such as the visual familiarity of the action-related information, the motor response component is determined by factors such as the alignment of the objects with the observers effectors and not by the visual familiarity of the stimuli. In addition to this, we suggest that action relations between stimuli can be coded pre-attentively, in the absence of attention to the stimulus, and action relations cue perceptual and motor responses rapidly and automatically. At present, formal theories of visual attention are not set up to account for these action-related effects; we suggest ways that theories could be expected to enable action effects to be incorporated.
Because of our limited processing capacity, different elements of the visual scene compete for the allocation of processing resources. One of the most striking deficits in visual selection is simultanagnosia, a rare neuropsychological condition characterized by impaired spatial awareness of more than one object at time. To decompose the neuroanatomical substrates of the syndrome and to gain insights into the structural and functional organization of visuospatial attention, we performed a systematic evaluation of lesion patterns in a group of simultanagnosic patients compared with patients with either (i) unilateral visuospatial deficits (neglect and/or extinction) or (ii) bilateral posterior lesions without visuospatial deficits, using overlap/subtraction analyses, estimation of lesion volume, and a lesion laterality index. We next used voxel-based morphometry to assess the link between different visuospatial deficits and gray matter and white matter (WM) damage. Lesion overlap/subtraction analyses, lesion laterality index, and voxel-based morphometry measures converged to indicate that bilateral parieto-occipital WM disconnections are both distinctive and necessary to create symptoms associated with simultanagnosia. We also found that bilateral gray matter damage within the middle frontal area (BA 46), cuneus, calacarine, and parieto-occipital fissure as well as right hemisphere parietal lesions within intraparietal and postcentral gyri were associated with simultanagnosia. Further analysis of the WM based on tractography revealed associations with bilateral damage to major pathways within the visuospatial attention network, including the superior longitudinal fasciculus, the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and the inferior longitudinal fasciculus. We conclude that damage to the parieto-occipital regions and the intraparietal sulcus, together, with bilateral WM disconnections within the visuosptial attention network, contribute to poor visual processing of multiple objects and the loss of processing speed characteristic of simultanagnosia.
A single case study of a patient (FK) with utilization disorder following bilateral damage to medial frontal and anterior temporal cortices is reported. FK had to localize a search target following presentation of an earlier verbal or visual cue. Search was strongly affected by semantic/visual associations between the cue and search items. Although FK was unable to name the hue of an incongruent Stroop word, his attention was drawn to a color in the display matching the hue of the cue word. FKs ability to inhibit a response activated by the cueing of attention was impaired. There is dissociation between top-down attention cueing and response inhibition.
Evidence is presented for the immediate apprehension of exact small quantities. Participants performed a quantification task (are the number of items greater or smaller than?), and carry-over effects were examined between numbers requiring the same response. Carry-over effects between small numbers were strongly affected by repeats of pattern and number identity relative to when displays were from the same response category but contained different numbers. Carry-over effects with large items were less sensitive to both pattern and number identity, even when the numbers in the small and large categories were matched for discriminability. The data suggest that small numbers are immediately apprehended through a direct subitization process distinct from pattern recognition and the apprehension of approximate number.
We ask whether bilingualism aids cognitive control over the inadvertent guidance of visual attention from working memory and from bottom-up cueing. We compare highly-proficient Catalan-Spanish bilinguals with Spanish monolinguals in three visual search conditions. In the working memory (WM) condition, attention was driven in a top-down fashion by irrelevant objects held in WM. In the Identify condition, attention was driven in a bottom-up fashion by visual priming. In the Singleton condition, attention was driven in a bottom-up fashion by including a unique distracting object in the search array. The results showed that bilinguals were overall faster than monolinguals in the three conditions, replicating previous findings that bilinguals can be more efficient than monolinguals in the deployment of attention. Interestingly, bilinguals were less captured by irrelevant information held in WM but were equally affected by visual priming and unique singletons in the search displays. These observations suggest that bilingualism aids top-down WM-mediated guidance of attention, facilitating processes that keep separate representations in WM from representations that guide visual attention. In contrast, bottom-up attentional capture by salient yet unrelated input operates similarly in bilinguals and monolinguals.
Inhibition of return (IOR) occurs when reaction times (RTs) are slowed to respond to a target that appears at a previously attended location. We used the speed-accuracy trade-off (SAT) procedure to obtain conjoint measures of IOR on sensitivity and processing speed by presenting targets at cued and uncued locations. The results showed that IOR is associated with both delays in processing speed and shifts in response criterion. When the target was briefly presented, the results supported a criterion shift account of IOR. However, when the target was presented until response, the evidence indicated that, in addition to a response bias effect, there was an increase in the minimal time required for information about the target to accumulate above chance level. A hybrid account of IOR is suggested that describes effects on both response bias and perceptual processing.
Previous studies have demonstrated that observers can search through a subset of items carrying a minority feature to find a conjunction target (Sobel & Cave, 2002). We examined whether subset search takes place when participants have less specific foreknowledge of the target (when the target is one of two possible items), measuring eye movements as well as reaction times. When there were unequal ratios of distractors, fixations were initially directed to the small subset. These initial eye movements were often directed between items with the same feature, suggesting guidance from pooled feature values. There was stronger guidance within color- than orientation-defined groups, although the features were balanced for salience. The results suggest that grouping of items by color operates more globally than grouping in orientation.
We present novel evidence for specific, disruptive effects of multi-step task demands on the production of everyday life tasks in two patients with Action Disorganization Syndrome (ADS). Experiment 1 demonstrated that the patients were impaired at carrying out everyday life tasks but improved when they instructed the examiner to perform the tasks. Experiments 2 and 3 showed that the patients improved in their own performance when the demands were reduced - by eliminating the need to use their own task schema (Experiment 2) and by reducing the need for error monitoring (Experiment 3). Experiment 4 reduced sequential effects in task performance further by having patients perform the same individual actions as before but now out of the task context. The data indicate that ADS patients are vulnerable to multiple demands made during the performance of everyday life tasks and show abnormal, disruptive effects of three specific factors: (i) using a self-driven schema, (ii) error monitoring and (iii) the activation of prior actions from the same task. The implications for understanding ADS are discussed.
The attentional blink, a measure of the temporal dynamics of visual processing, has been documented to be more pronounced following brain lesions that are associated with visual neglect. This suggests that, in addition to their spatial bias in attention, neglect patients may have a prolonged dwell time for attention. Here the attentional dwell time was examined in patients with damage focused on either posterior parietal or frontal cortices. In three experiments, we show that there is an abnormally pronounced attentional dwell time, which does not differ in patients with posterior parietal and with frontal lobe lesions, and this is associated with a measure of selective attention but not with measures of spatial bias in selection. These data occurred both when we attempted to match patients and controls for overall differences in performance and when a single set stimulus exposure was used across participants. In Experiments 1 and 2, requiring report of colour-form conjunctions, there was evidence that the patients were also impaired at temporal binding, showing errors in feature combination across stimuli and in reporting in the correct temporal order. In Experiment 3, requiring only the report of features but introducing task switching led to similar results. The data suggest that damage to a frontoparietal network can compromise temporal selection of visual stimuli; however, this is not necessarily related to a deficit in hemispatial visual attention but it is to impaired target selection. We discuss the implications for understanding visual selection.
Patients with left neglect were tested with "chimeric" figures composed of the right and left halves of two different objects. The connectivity relation was modulated between the two half figures. For some displays, the two chimeric halves were separated by a small gap, while in others, the separate halves were connected by a line segment. In line with previous reports, performance on reporting the left half improved when the chimera were separated; but when a line connected the two separated halves the advantage was lost. If the connecting line was broken, the performance was again enhanced. The results suggest an important role for connectedness in the representation of perceptual objects and in the distribution of attention in neglect.
The present study examined the relations between the lesions linked to visual and tactile extinction (VE and TE), and those related to visual field defects and spatial neglect. Continuous variations in patients performance were used to assess the link between behavioural scores and integrity of both grey and white matter (GM and WM). We found both common and distinct neural substrates associated with extinction and neglect. Damage to angular and middle occipital gyri, superior temporal sulcus (STS) and insula were linked to VE. Lesions involving the supramarginal gyrus (SMG), intraparietal sulcus, middle frontal and superior temporal gyri (MFG and STG) were associated exclusively with spatial neglect. Lesions affecting the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), the middle temporal region, middle frontal area (BA46) as well as the insula and putamen were linked to both spatial neglect and VE. Analysis of the relations between VE and TE highlighted the TPJ as the common site for both modalities. These findings suggest that the TPJ plays a general role in identifying salient events in the sensory environment across multiple modalities. Furthermore, WM analyses pointed to superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) as critical for interconnecting components of the visuospatial attention network. We demonstrated that functional disconnections resulting from SLF damage contribute to altered performance on attention tasks measuring not only neglect but also VE and TE. We propose that the SLF supports interactions between functionally specialized regions involved in attentional control across multiple sensory modalities.
Patients who have had a stroke resulting in the deficit of visuo-spatial neglect are normally not provided with a powered wheelchair, as they are either considered or found to be unsafe navigating about their environment. As these patients are relatively unlikely to regain functional mobility by walking, the denial of alternative forms of mobility is of particular concern. Modest progress has been made over the past two decades with regards to the rehabilitation of neglect but there have been calls for further research which addresses "real world" measures of independence such as wheelchair navigation. In this study, we investigated the ability of patients with neglect to improve their performance when navigating a powered wheelchair by using theoretically-driven strategies that have shown promise in previous studies (spatial cueing and limb activation). Strategies were applied and tested in the most realistic and practical manner for each individual, based on their abilities and concurrent deficits. Performance was improved by the experimental strategies. The data suggest it is possible to apply theoretically-driven strategies to improve wheelchair navigation in patients with neglect and are supportive of further studies that could lead to improved access to powered mobility by this population in the future.
Evidence for inhibitory processes in visual search comes from studies using preview conditions, where responses to new targets are delayed if they carry a featural attribute belonging to the old distractor items that are currently being ignored-the negative carry-over effect (Braithwaite, Humphreys, & Hodsoll, 2003). We examined whether inhibition was applied in the same manner across different types of displays or whether the inhibitory weighting applied to different features varied with their utility for the search task. To test this, we present the first empirical investigation of negative carry-over effects under the ecologically valid conditions of dynamic visual search. Experiment 1 investigated preview search using dynamic moving and static displays. Detection was very poor when new targets carried the color of the old distractors, and this negative carry-over effect was significantly exaggerated with moving, compared with static, displays. Experiments 2a and 2b demonstrated that this effect could not be attributed to an increased role of preattentive grouping between new and old items for dynamic displays. Collectively, the findings suggest that feature-based inhibition contributes strongly to preview search through dynamic displays, and this leads to an amplified attentional blindness to new targets. The data specifically indicate that inhibitory processes in search differentially weight color and location in moving and static displays, and that feature-based inhibition may underlie many instances of sustained inattentional blindness in everyday life.
Participants jointly engaged in common tasks with co-actors can be influenced in guiding their own attention by representations of what the co-actor also holds in memory (He et al. under review). This demonstrates an effect of interpersonal memory on attention. Here, we tested how this interpersonal memory effect is affected by the relationship between the actors. Participants searched for targets while maintaining images in working memory or after previewed images that co-actors had to memorise. We examined three groups: Caucasian strangers (low ingroup relations) and two other groups with likely higher ingroup relations (Caucasian friends and Chinese participants living in Britain). In all three groups, attention was directed to stimuli that matched the item the individual had to memorise. However, images that had to be memorised by co-actors only attracted the attention of Caucasian strangers but not the Caucasian friends and Chinese participants. We suggest that interpersonal memory-based guidance of attention is modulated by the nature of the relationship between individuals and reduces when individuals have higher ingroup relations.
A growing number of studies have shown that significant impairments to search and selection can occur if the target item carries a feature of the irrelevant distractors currently being ignored Braithwaite, Humphreys, and Hodsoll (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 29, 758-778, 2003). However, these effects have been documented only when search has been extended over time (i.e., in preview search), and not in standard search displays with simultaneously presented items. Here, we present the first evidence that similar costs to selection can occur in simultaneous displays under appropriate circumstances. In the present experiment, participants searched a display for a moving target letter among static and moving distractors. Search efficiency was significantly enhanced for a moving target when half of the letters moved (and half remained static), allowing the static items to be excluded from search. However, if the moving target then shared its color with the irrelevant static items, significant costs emerged, relative to baselines. These results are consistent with the involvement of a general feature-based suppression mechanism in selection, operating over space as well as time.
The parietal cortex is considered to be part of a network of brain areas that modulates competitive interactions between targets and irrelevant distracters in early visual cortex, however there is currently little causal evidence to support this in human observers. It is also unclear as to whether parietal influences on visual perception in humans are limited to the contralesional hemispace or whether a unilateral lesion affects visual sensitivity bilaterally. Here we examined visual sensitivity in two patients with spatial neglect and extinction arising primarily from left-parietal damage. We used a sensitive psychophysical task based on those previously used to demonstrate loss of stimulus selection after lesions to extrastriate cortex. Observers discriminated the orientation of a lateralized suprathreshold target grating that appeared alone or in the context of nearby salient disc distracters. For parietal patients, target sensitivity within both the contralesional and ipsilesional fields was compromised by the presence of distracters. Conversely, healthy matched controls were unaffected by distracters. These results indicate that parietal cortex damage can influence visual perception within both the ipsi- as well as the contralesional field.
Facial self-awareness is a basic human ability dependent on a distributed bilateral neural network and revealed through prioritized processing of our own over other faces. Using non-prosopagnosic patients we show, for the first time, that facial self-awareness can be fractionated into different component processes. Patients performed two face perception tasks. In a face orientation task, they judged whether their own or others faces were oriented to the left or right. In the cross experiment, they judged which horizontal or vertical element in a cross was relatively longer while ignoring a task-irrelevant face presented as background. The data indicate that impairments to a distinct task-based prioritization process (when faces had to be attended) were present after brain damage to right superior frontal gyrus, bilateral precuneus, and left middle temporal gyrus. In contrast, impairments to automatic prioritization processes (when faces had to be ignored) were associated only with left hemisphere damage (the cingulate gyrus, superior parietal lobe, and superior temporal gyrus). In addition, both automatic and task-based self-prioritizations were affected by damage to left supramarginal and angular gyrus. The results for the gray matter analyses also extended to the adjacent white matter fiber tracts including the inferior occipital-frontal fasciculus, cingulum, and optic radiation. The data provide the first empirical evidence for separate functional roles of the left and right hemispheres in different aspects of self-face perception and suggest distinct functional processes respectively for paying attention to and for ignoring self-related information.
Recent research indicates that working memory (WM) and attention interact, with attention automatically biased to stimuli that match the contents of WM. Though there is behavioral evidence for verbal guidance (written words) as well as guidance by more visual cues in WM, we have limited understanding of how these two representational formats influence the guidance of visual selection at a neural level. Here, we present converging evidence from functional MRI and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which indicates that both common and distinct neural regions mediate the influence of visuoverbal representations on WM. Colored shapes, but not words, in WM activated the superior frontal gyrus (SFG) and recognition memory areas in the temporal lobe when the contents of WM matched a stimulus in a subsequent search display. rTMS to the SFG disrupted WM effects from colored shapes. The lateral occipital cortex, however, tended to be more activated with written word cues, and rTMS to the lateral occipital complex tended to disrupt effects from written words more than from colored shapes in WM. There was also evidence for cue validity effects from colored shapes and written stimuli operating through different subthalamic nuclei. We discuss the evidence for understanding the neural systems mediating attention effects from WM.
We examined the relations between joint action and Theory of Mind (ToM) in neurological patients with impairments in ToM, in control patients (who passed ToM tasks) and non-lesioned controls. In two experiments, joint action was assessed in a "social Simon" procedure where spatial compatibility effects were tested under two-alternative forced-choice and under go/nogo conditions, which participants performed in isolation or alongside another participant (the joint action condition). In Experiment 1, patients with impaired ToM showed evidence of increased spatial compatibility effects under standard (two-alternative forced-choice) conditions but, unlike the control participants, these effects disappeared in the joint action condition. In Experiment 2, the ToM patients were asked to pay particular attention to their co-actor. With these instructions, ToM patients with lesions of posterior parietal cortex now showed a sustained spatial compatibility effect in the joint action condition, while ToM patients with lesions primarily involving frontal regions showed an initial effect of spatial compatibility that decreased across trials. The data suggest common processes involved in ToM processing and joint action effects, related to either the ability to attend to appropriate social cues (affected in posterior parietal patients) or the ability to recruit sufficient resources to code anothers actions (affected in frontal patients).
A number of recent studies have demonstrated superior visual processing when the information is distributed across the left and right visual fields than if the information is presented in a single hemifield (the bilateral field advantage). This effect is thought to reflect independent attentional resources in the two hemifields and the capacity of the neural responses to the left and right hemifields to process visual information in parallel. Here, we examined whether a bilateral field advantage can also be observed in a high-level visual task that requires the information from both hemifields to be combined. To this end, we used a visual enumeration task--a task that requires the assimilation of separate visual items into a single quantity--where the to-be-enumerated items were either presented in one hemifield or distributed between the two visual fields. We found that enumerating large number (>4 items), but not small number (<4 items), exhibited the bilateral field advantage: enumeration was more accurate when the visual items were split between the left and right hemifields than when they were all presented within the same hemifield. Control experiments further showed that this effect could not be attributed to a horizontal alignment advantage of the items in the visual field, or to a retinal stimulation difference between the unilateral and bilateral displays. These results suggest that a bilateral field advantage can arise when the visual task involves inter-hemispheric integration. This is in line with previous research and theory indicating that, when the visual task is attentionally demanding, parallel processing by the neural responses to the left and right hemifields can expand the capacity of visual information processing.
The link between perception and action allows us to interact fluently with the world. Objects which afford an action elicit a visuomotor response, facilitating compatible responses. In addition, positioning objects to interact with one another appears to facilitate grouping, indicated by patients with extinction being better able to identify interacting objects (e.g. a corkscrew going towards the top of a wine bottle) than the same objects when positioned incorrectly for action (Riddoch, Humphreys, Edwards, Baker, & Willson, Nature Neuroscience, 6, 82-89, 2003). Here, we investigate the effect of action relations on the perception of normal participants. We found improved identification of briefly-presented objects when in correct versus incorrect co-locations for action. For the object that would be active in the interaction (the corkscrew), this improvement was enhanced when it was oriented for use by the viewers dominant hand. In contrast, the position-related benefit for the passive object was stronger when the objects formed an action-related pair (corkscrew and bottle) compared with an unrelated pair (corkscrew and candle), and it was reduced when spatial cues disrupted grouping between the objects. We propose that these results indicate two separate effects of action relations on normal perception: a visuomotor response to objects which strongly afford an action; and a grouping effect between objects which form action-related pairs.
We present the case for a role of biologically plausible neural network modeling in bridging the gap between physiology and behavior. We argue that spiking-level networks can allow "vertical" translation between physiological properties of neural systems and emergent "whole-system" performance-enabling psychological results to be simulated from implemented networks and also inferences to be made from simulations concerning processing at a neural level. These models also emphasize particular factors (e.g., the dynamics of performance in relation to real-time neuronal processing) that are not highlighted in other approaches and that can be tested empirically. We illustrate our argument from neural-level models that select stimuli by biased competition. We show that a model with biased competition dynamics can simulate data ranging from physiological studies of single-cell activity (Study 1) to whole-system behavior in human visual search (Study 2), while also capturing effects at an intermediate level, including performance breakdown after neural lesion (Study 3) and data from brain imaging (Study 4). We also show that, at each level of analysis, novel predictions can be derived from the biologically plausible parameters adopted, which we proceed to test (Study 5). We argue that, at least for studying the dynamics of visual attention, the approach productively links single-cell to psychological data.
We report data examining the relations between endogenous allocation of visual attention and effects of motor-preparation on attention. We tested a patient with a spatial bias in perceptual report following damage to the left inferior parietal lobe and superior temporal gyrus. Previously we have shown that the spatial bias in report can be reduced when a movement is planned to where a target falls in the contralesional field, while the bias is exacerbated when a movement is planned to the ipsilesional side (Kitadono & Humphreys, 2007, Cognitive Neuropsychology, 24). Here we pitted the effects of planning a movement to the contra- or ipsilesional side against the effects of endogenous visual attention, manipulated by varying the probability of where a target would fall. In a no-movement baseline, there was better identification of contralesional targets when there was a good likelihood of targets appearing on the contralesional side (the 20-80 and 50-50 conditions) compared with when targets had a low probability of occurring there (the 80-20 condition). This sensitivity to target probability interacted with the effects of planning a movement to the contra- or ipsilesional side. When the target had a good probability of falling in the contralesional field (the 20-80 and 50-50 conditions), planning a movement to the ipsilesional side disrupted contralesional report. When there was a high probability of an ipsilesional target (the 80-20 condition), planning a movement to a congruent side improved contralesional report. The results indicate that effects of endogenous attention and of motor-based attention influence a common system controlling visual orienting.
We examined two forms of top-down effects on visual selection: (1) information held in working memory (WM) and (2) the semantic relations between targets and distractors. We found that items held in WM affected search for a different target. This WM-based interference effect generalized across different exemplars, even though participants could remember the specific exemplar on the trial. This argues against a memory top-up account of performance. In addition, there was interference from distractors that were not held in WM but were semantically related to the target. The effects of WM capture and the effects of capture by a distractor related to the target combined additively. The data suggest that task-irrelevant information in WM and task-relevant templates for targets compete separately for selection. The implications for understanding top-down processes in search are discussed.
Previous studies have shown that attention is drawn to the location of manipulable objects and is distributed across pairs of objects that are positioned for action. Here, we investigate whether central, action-related objects can cue attention to peripheral targets. Experiment 1 compared the effect of uninformative arrow and object cues on a letter discrimination task. Arrow cues led to spatial-cueing benefits across a range of stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs: 0 ms, 120 ms, 400 ms), but object-cueing benefits were slow to build and were only significant at the 400-ms SOA. Similar results were found in Experiment 2, in which the targets were objects that could be either congruent or incongruent with the cue (e.g., screwdriver and screw versus screwdriver and glass). Cueing benefits were not influenced by the congruence between the cue and target, suggesting that the cueing effects reflected the action implied by the central object, not the interaction between the objects. For Experiment 3 participants decided whether the cue and target objects were related. Here, the interaction between congruent (but not incongruent) targets led to significant cueing/positioning benefits at all three SOAs. Reduced cueing benefits were obtained in all three experiments when the object cue did not portray a legitimate action (e.g., a bottle pointing towards an upper location, since a bottle cannot pour upwards), suggesting that it is the perceived action that is critical, rather than the structural properties of individual objects. The data suggest that affordance for action modulates the allocation of visual attention.
The ability to adaptively control our responses to conflicting information is crucial if we are to respond in a flexible manner to the environment. The "conflict monitoring model" proposes that the prefrontal cortex is responsible of reactive adjustments in cognitive control. We present neuropsychological data contrasting the performance of patients with prefrontal lesions with the one exhibited by patients with lesions outside the frontal lobe and nonlesioned participants, on the processes involved in the dynamic adaptation to conflicting stimulus information. Relative to both lesioned and nonlesioned control groups, prefrontal patients were impaired in adapting to conflict when all features of the conflicting stimuli and their associated responses changed on consecutive trials. However, the prefrontal patients also showed an unusually large conflict adaptation effect when the stimuli and/or response features repeated across trials. We conclude that prefrontal cortex is relevant both for genuine "top-down" conflict monitoring and for regulating the influence of "bottom-up" responses based on the integration of stimulus features across trials.
A critical step in visual perceptual processing is integrating local visual elements into contours so that shapes can be derived from them. It is often assumed that contour integration may reflect hardwired coding of low-level visual features. In this study, we present novel evidence indicating that integration of local elements into contours can be learned subliminally, despite being irrelevant to the training task and despite the local properties of the display varying randomly during training. Learning occurred only when contours were consistently paired with task-relevant targets--echoing the findings of previous studies on subliminal learning of low-level features. Our data indicate that task-irrelevant, exposure-based learning extends beyond local low-level visual features and may play a critical role at multiple levels of visual perceptual organization.
Insights into the functional nature and neuroanatomy of spatial attention have come from research in neglect patients but to date many conflicting results have been reported. The novelty of the current study is that we used voxel-wise analyses based on information from segmented grey and white matter tissue combined with diffusion tensor imaging to decompose neural substrates of different neglect symptoms. Allocentric neglect was associated with damage to posterior cortical regions (posterior superior temporal sulcus, angular, middle temporal and middle occipital gyri). In contrast, egocentric neglect was associated with more anterior cortical damage (middle frontal, postcentral, supramarginal, and superior temporal gyri) and damage within subcortical structures. Damage to intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) was associated with both forms of neglect. Importantly, we showed that both disorders were associated with white matter lesions suggesting damage within long association and projection pathways such as the superior longitudinal, superior fronto-occipital, inferior longitudinal, and inferior fronto-occipital fascicule, thalamic radiation, and corona radiata. We conclude that distinct cortical regions control attention (a) across space (using an egocentric frame of reference) and (b) within objects (using an allocentric frame of reference), while common cortical regions (TPJ, IPS) and common white matter pathways support interactions across the different cortical regions.
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