Nav: Home

How visual attention selects important information

November 14, 2016

Researchers at Tohoku University have revealed multiple functions of visual attention, the process of selecting important information from retinal images.

Studies of visual attention discovered an interesting inconsistency in spatial property. Specifically, some studies reported broad spatial spreads around attended locations, while others reported a selection of information at the attention focus.

For example - according to one study, when a person looks for a friend in a crowd, visual attention makes not only the friend, but also the people standing around the friend more visible. Another study claims that attention tends to focus on the friend's face, ignoring everyone else.

According to the research group led by Professor Satoshi Shioiri of the Research Institute of Electrical Communication, these discrepancies can be attributed to the different stages of the attention process. Their brain wave measurements revealed that a wide area around the attention focus is facilitated by attention at early visual processing, and that information at the attended location is extracted selectively at later processing. Information adjacent to the attention focus seems to be facilitated and suppressed simultaneously. So the inconsistency among previous studies can be explained by considering the effects of different attentional processes.

The research group thus proposes a model of spatial attention that has two stages with different functions. The attention model proposed could predict different attention effects for different visual processes.

This would be useful particularly for complex tasks such as driving, where it is important to notice not just pedestrians but also other elements on the road. Precise estimation of attention helps people to understand potential dangers in attention-demanding conditions.

This study was published in Scientific Reports on October 19, 2016.
-end-


Tohoku University

Related Attention Articles:

How mobile apps grab our attention
Aalto University researchers alongside international collaborators have done the first empirical study on how users pay visual attention to mobile app designs.
Gulls pay attention to human eyes
Herring gulls notice where approaching humans are looking, and flee sooner when they're being watched, a new study shows.
Paying attention to the neurons behind our alertness
The neurons of layer 6 - the deepest layer of the cortex - were examined by researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University to uncover how they react to sensory stimulation in different behavioral states.
Toddlers who use touchscreens show attention differences
New research from the TABLET project recruited 12-month-old infants who had different levels of touchscreen usage.
Changes in brain attention may underlie autism
New research in JNeurosci explores how a particular region of the brainstem might explain differences in attention in people with autism.
Babies from bilingual homes switch attention faster
Babies born into bilingual homes change the focus of their attention more quickly and more frequently than babies in homes where only one language is spoken, according to new research published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
A surprising new source of attention in the brain
Scientists find a new brain area in control of our attention skills, raising new questions in what has long been considered a settled scientific field.
Controlling attention with brain waves
Having trouble paying attention? MIT neuroscientists may have a solution for you: Turn down your alpha brain waves.
People pay more attention to stimuli they associate with danger
A new analysis of how people prioritize their attention when determining safety and danger in busy settings, such as crossing a road, suggests that a person will pay more attention to something if they learn it is associated with danger.
Do the costs of cancer drugs receive enough attention?
A recent analysis from Canada found that information on health-related quality of life is often not collected for investigational cancer drugs or used to calculate the balance of costs and benefits of these drugs when they are submitted for reimbursement, according to findings published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
More Attention News and Attention Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.