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Open AccessArticle

How Does Spatial Attention Influence the Probability and Fidelity of Colour Perception?

Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada
Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Vision 2019, 3(2), 31;
Received: 23 January 2019 / Revised: 3 June 2019 / Accepted: 12 June 2019 / Published: 17 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Visual Orienting and Conscious Perception)
PDF [1123 KB, uploaded 17 June 2019]


Existing research has found that spatial attention alters how various stimulus properties are perceived (e.g., luminance, saturation), but few have explored whether it improves the accuracy of perception. To address this question, we performed two experiments using modified Posner cueing tasks, wherein participants made speeded detection responses to peripheral colour targets and then indicated their perceived colours on a colour wheel. In E1, cues were central and endogenous (i.e., prompted voluntary attention) and the interval between cues and targets (stimulus onset asynchrony, or SOA) was always 800 ms. In E2, cues were peripheral and exogenous (i.e., captured attention involuntarily) and the SOA varied between short (100 ms) and long (800 ms). A Bayesian mixed-model analysis was used to isolate the effects of attention on the probability and the fidelity of colour encoding. Both endogenous and short-SOA exogenous spatial cueing improved the probability of encoding the colour of targets. Improved fidelity of encoding was observed in the endogenous but not in the exogenous cueing paradigm. With exogenous cues, inhibition of return (IOR) was observed in both RT and probability at the long SOA. Overall, our findings reinforce the utility of continuous response variables in the research of attention. View Full-Text
Keywords: visual perception; colour wheel; spatial attention; exogenous; endogenous visual perception; colour wheel; spatial attention; exogenous; endogenous

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material

  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Doi: 10.17605/OSF.IO/KMZXN
    Description: All data, analysis scripts, and experiment programs for both experiments, as well as the RMarkdown/knitr code used to compile the manuscript into LaTeX format.

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Hurst, A.J.; Lawrence, M.A.; Klein, R.M. How Does Spatial Attention Influence the Probability and Fidelity of Colour Perception? Vision 2019, 3, 31.

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