Reciprocal Effects of Attention and Perception

This chapter comments on Anne Treisman’s 2006 paper How the deployment of attention determines what we see, published in Visual Cognition. Treisman reports the results of some studies on focused attention and its use in binding features, as well as distributed attention and the kinds of information we gain and lose when the attention window is opened wide. She describes two kinds of visual processing: the first occurs automatically with distributed attention and results in a statistical description of sets of similar objects, and the second gives the gist of the scene, which may be inferred from sets of features registered in parallel. This chapter discusses Treisman’s findings in terms of feature integration theory and its association with binding, the reciprocal effects of attention and perception, and the physiology and mathematics underlying the way independent analyzers join to form unified percepts. It also considers processing stages, from illusory conjunctions to veridical binding, along with the relationship between implicit versus explicit processing and perception with spread versus focused attention and their relationship to reverse hierarchy theory. It concludes with an assessment of the goal of attention according to Treisman.

Authors: S. Hochstein
Year of publication: 2012
Journal: Wolfe, J. & Robertson, L., Eds. “From Perception to Consciousness: Searching with Anne Treisman” Oxford U Press

Link to publication:


“Working memory”