Pitting binding against selection – electrophysiological measures of feature-based attention are attenuated by Gestalt object grouping

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Abstract

Humans have limited cognitive resources to process the nearly limitless information available in the environment. Endogenous, or ‘top-down’, selective attention to basic visual features such as color or motion is a common strategy for biasing resources in favor of the most relevant information sources in a given context. Opposing this top-down separation of features is a ‘bottom-up’ tendency to integrate, or bind, the various features that constitute objects. We pitted these two processes against each other in an electrophysiological experiment to test if top-down selective attention can overcome constitutive binding processes. Our results demonstrate that bottom-up binding processes can dominate top-down feature-based attention even when explicitly detrimental to task performance.

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