Attentional control of sensory tuning in human visual perception

Aspasia E. Paltoglou, Peter Neri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Paltoglou AE, Neri P. Attentional control of sensory tuning in human visual perception. J Neurophysiol 107: 1260-1274, 2012. First published November 30, 2011; doi:10.1152/jn.00776.2011.-Attention is known to affect the response properties of sensory neurons in visual cortex. These effects have been traditionally classified into two categories: 1) changes in the gain (overall amplitude) of the response; and 2) changes in the tuning (selectivity) of the response. We performed an extensive series of behavioral measurements using psychophysical reverse correlation to understand whether/how these neuronal changes are reflected at the level of our perceptual experience. This question has been addressed before, but by different laboratories using different attentional manipulations and stimuli/tasks that are not directly comparable, making it difficult to extract a comprehensive and coherent picture from existing literature. Our results demonstrate that the effect of attention on response gain (not necessarily associated with tuning change) is relatively aspecific: it occurred across all the conditions we tested, including attention directed to a feature orthogonal to the primary feature for the assigned task. Sensory tuning, however, was affected primarily by feature-based attention and only to a limited extent by spatially directed attention, in line with existing evidence from the electrophysiological and behavioral literature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number-
Pages (from-to)1260-1274
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number5
Early online date30 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


  • motion
  • macaque area V4
  • selective attention
  • population responses
  • spatial attention
  • visible persistence
  • cortex
  • iconic memory
  • tuning curve
  • MT
  • noise image classification
  • motion and orientation processing
  • classification images


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