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Pitting binding against selection – electrophysiological measures of feature-based attention are attenuated by Gestalt object grouping

Authors

  • Adam C. Snyder,

    1. The Sheryl and Daniel R. Tishman Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC), Departments of Pediatrics and Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Van Etten Building – Wing 1C, 1225 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461, USA
    2. The Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, Program in Cognitive Neuroscience, Departments of Psychology & Biology, City College of the City University of New York, New York, NY, USA
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  • Ian C. Fiebelkorn,

    1. The Sheryl and Daniel R. Tishman Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC), Departments of Pediatrics and Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Van Etten Building – Wing 1C, 1225 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461, USA
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  • John J. Foxe

    1. The Sheryl and Daniel R. Tishman Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC), Departments of Pediatrics and Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Van Etten Building – Wing 1C, 1225 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461, USA
    2. The Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, Program in Cognitive Neuroscience, Departments of Psychology & Biology, City College of the City University of New York, New York, NY, USA
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Prof. J. J. Foxe, 1Departments of Pediatrics and Neuroscience, as above.
E-mail: john.foxe@einsten.yu.edu

Abstract

Humans have limited cognitive resources to process the nearly limitless information available in the environment. Endogenous, or ‘top-down’, selective attention to basic visual features such as color or motion is a common strategy for biasing resources in favor of the most relevant information sources in a given context. Opposing this top-down separation of features is a ‘bottom-up’ tendency to integrate, or bind, the various features that constitute objects. We pitted these two processes against each other in an electrophysiological experiment to test if top-down selective attention can overcome constitutive binding processes. Our results demonstrate that bottom-up binding processes can dominate top-down feature-based attention even when explicitly detrimental to task performance.

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