Study: Attention can impair perception

Sep 12, 2006

We normally think of paying attention to an object as a way to better perceive it, but U.S. scientists say sustained attention might worsen perception.

Previous work has suggested attention makes a visual stimulus easier to see by effectively increasing its contrast. However, contrast sensitivity decreases after prolonged periods of looking at high-contrast stimuli.

New York University researcher Samuel Ling and colleagues showed people black and white stripes and then asked them to report whether the stripes leaned to the left or the right; this task is harder to do when the contrast between the stripes is lower.

The researchers found when people paid attention to a particular set of stripes, they could initially do the task even with low-contrast stripes. However, after a prolonged period of attention, people needed higher-contrast stimuli to succeed at the same task.

The researchers say their results indicate prolonged periods of attention to specific stimuli might eventually impair, rather than improve, perception.

The study is presented in the October issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Evidence plays limited role in OTC decision making

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For pharmacy graduates and tutors, evidence seems to play a limited role in over-the-counter decision making, according to a study published online Dec. 11 in the Journal of Evaluation in Cl ...

Shared medical appointments beneficial in geriatric care

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For older patients, a shared medical appointment (SMA) program facilitates early detection and referral for geriatric syndromes, according to an article published online Nov. 29 in the Journal of ...

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

15 hours ago

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.