A critical review of the cognitive and perceptual factors influencing attentional scaling and visual processing

Rebecca K. Lawrence*, Mark Edwards, Louisa A. Talipski, Stephanie C. Goodhew

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    An important mechanism used to selectively process relevant information in the environment is spatial attention. One fundamental way in which spatial attention is deployed is attentional scaling – the process of focusing attentional resources either narrowly or broadly across the visual field. Although early empirical work suggested that narrowing attention improves all aspects of visual processing, recent studies have demonstrated that narrowing attention can also have no effect or even a detrimental impact when it comes to vision that is thought to be mediated via the magnocellular pathway of the visual system. Here, for the first time, we synthesize empirical evidence measuring the behavioral effects of attentional scaling on tasks gauging the contribution of the major neural pathways of the visual system, with the purpose of determining the potential factors driving these contradictory empirical findings. This analysis revealed that attentional scaling could be best understood by considering the unique methodologies used in the research literature to date. The implications of this analysis for theoretical frameworks of attentional scaling are discussed, and methodological improvements for future research are proposed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)405-422
    Number of pages18
    JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
    Volume27
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

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