Feature-based attention and the suppression of non-relevant object features

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Feature-directed attention has been recently studied in various psychophysical, electrophysiological, and imaging studies. Convincing evidence has been obtained for its global effectiveness, but there is a debate about the processing fate of non-attended target features. A number of studies demonstrated feature-directed attention being associated with co-selection of non-relevant object features, thus resulting in selection of the entire object, whereas most other studies did not examine the extent to which processing of non-attended features was affected. Here, we present the results of two psychophysical experiments consisting of a Posner-like paradigm in which subjects were cued either to an individual feature or the entire object. We measured reaction times to changes in speed or colour of one of two simultaneously presented gratings. Our results strongly support the view that feature-based selection is a unique selection process different from object-based selection in that it can be associated with active suppression of non-relevant features.

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