Attentional resolution

Sheng He, Patrick Cavanagh, James Intriligator

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Attention can enhance selectively the visual information processing of particular locations or objects. Recent studies have shown that this enhancement has limited spatial resolution, the smallest regions that can be isolated by attention are much coarser than the smallest details that can be resolved by vision. Multiple similar objects spaced more finely than the limit of attentional resolution cannot be individuated for further processing and can only be perceived as a grouped texture. As a result at any given time, only part of the spatial and temporal information registered by the early sensory systems is available to conscious perception. It is likely that attentional resolution is limited at a stage beyond V1 and that it has a finer grain in the lower visual field than in the upper field. The spatial aperture of attention is elongated along relative to fixation. The briefest temporal window of attention is also much broader than visual temporal resolution. Many perceptual phenomena related to rapid serial visual presentation may reflect the limited temporal resolution of attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-121
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1997


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