TitleNeural Responses to Target Features outside a Search Array Are Enhanced during Conjunction but Not Unique-Feature Search
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsPainter DR, Dux PE, Travis SL, Mattingley JB
Date PublishedFeb 26
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0270-6474
Accession NumberBIOSIS:PREV201400293513
Keywords(adult, 20504, Nervous system - Physiology and biochemistry, Animals, Chordates,, clinical, clinical techniques/foveal array, EEG, electroencephalography, female, male)], frequency-tagged neural oscillation, Hominidae [86215], Humans, Mammals, Primates, Vertebrates, Nervous System (Neural Coordination), Primates, Mammalia, Vertebrata, Chordata, Animalia, Techniques, visual search, neural response, distractor color, neutral object,, [human
AbstractThe visual world is typically too complex to permit full apprehension of its content from a single fixation. Humans therefore use visual search to direct attention and eye movements to locations or objects of interest in cluttered scenes. Psychophysical investigations have revealed that observers can select target elements from within an array of distractors on the basis of their spatial location or simple features, such as color. It remains unclear, however, how stimuli that lie outside the current search array are represented in the visual system. To investigate this, we recorded continuous neural activity using EEG while participants searched a foveal array of colored targets and distractors, and ignored irrelevant objects in the periphery. Search targets were defined either by a unique feature within the array or by a conjunction of features. Objects outside the array could match the target or distractor color within the array, or otherwise possessed a baseline (neutral) color present only in the periphery. The search array and irrelevant peripheral objects flickered at unique rates and thus evoked distinct frequency-tagged neural oscillations. During conjunction but not unique-feature search, target-colored objects outside the array evoked enhanced activity relative to distractor-colored and neutral objects. The results suggest that feature-based selection applies to stimuli at ignored peripheral locations, but only when central targets compete with distractors within the array. Distractor-colored and neutral objects evoked equivalent oscillatory responses, suggesting that feature-based selection at ignored locations during visual search arises exclusively from enhancement rather than suppression of neural activity.