Voluntary attention modulates processing of eye-specific visual information

Peng Zhang, Yi Jiang, Sheng He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Visual attention functions to select relevant information from a vast amount of visual input that is available for further processing. Information from the two eyes is processed separately in early stages before converging and giving rise to a coherent percept. Observers normally cannot access eye-of-origin information. In the research reported here, we demonstrated that voluntary attention can be eye-specific, modulating visual processing within a specific monocular channel. Using a modified binocular-rivalry paradigm, we found that attending to a monocular cue while remaining oblivious to its eye of origin significantly enhanced the competition strength of a stimulus presented to the cued eye, even when the stimulus was suppressed from consciousness. Furthermore, this eye-specific attentional effect was insensitive to low-level properties of the cue (e.g., size and contrast) but sensitive to the attentional load. Together, these findings suggest that top-down attention can have a significant modulation effect at the eye-specific stage of visual information processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-260
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors of this study were supported by Grant R01 EY015261 from the National Eye Institute and Grant BCS-0818588 from the National Science Foundation. Y. J. was also supported by Grant 2011CB711000 from the National Basic Research Program of China and Grant 31070903 from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.


  • visual attention
  • visual perception

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