Visual attention and stability

Sebastiaan Mathot*, Jan Theeuwes

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

    50 Citations (Scopus)
    232 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    In the present review, we address the relationship between attention and visual stability. Even though with each eye, head and body movement the retinal image changes dramatically, we perceive the world as stable and are able to perform visually guided actions. However, visual stability is not as complete as introspection would lead us to believe. We attend to only a few items at a time and stability is maintained only for those items. There appear to be two distinct mechanisms underlying visual stability. The first is a passive mechanism: the visual system assumes the world to be stable, unless there is a clear discrepancy between the pre- and post-saccadic image of the region surrounding the saccade target. This is related to the pre-saccadic shift of attention, which allows for an accurate preview of the saccade target. The second is an active mechanism: information about attended objects is remapped within retinotopic maps to compensate for eye movements. The locus of attention itself, which is also characterized by localized retinotopic activity, is remapped as well. We conclude that visual attention is crucial in our perception of a stable world.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)516-527
    Number of pages12
    JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
    Volume366
    Issue number1564
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 27-Feb-2011

    Keywords

    • visual attention
    • visual stability
    • trans-saccadic memory
    • remapping
    • assumption of stability
    • SACCADIC EYE-MOVEMENTS
    • LATERAL INTRAPARIETAL AREA
    • PARIETAL CORTEX
    • SUCCESSIVE FIXATIONS
    • EXTRASTRIATE CORTEX
    • TRANSSACCADIC INTEGRATION
    • SELECTIVE ATTENTION
    • SUPERIOR COLLICULUS
    • RECEPTIVE-FIELDS
    • SPACE CONSTANCY

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