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Numerous studies have suggested that the deployment of attention is linked to saliency. In contrast, very little is known about how salient objects are perceived. To probe the perception of salient elements, observers compared two horizontally aligned stimuli in an array of eight elements. One of them was salient because of its orientation or direction of motion. We observed that the perceived luminance contrast or color saturation of the salient element increased: the salient stimulus looked even more salient. We explored the possibility that changes in appearance were caused by attention. We chose an event-related potential indexing attentional selection, the N2pc, to answer this question. The absence of an N2pc to the salient object provides preliminary evidence against involuntary attentional capture by the salient element. We suggest that signals from a master saliency map flow back into individual feature maps. These signals boost the perceived feature contrast of salient objects, even on perceptual dimensions different from the one that initially defined saliency.

Author: Dirk Kerzel , Josef Schönhammer, Nicolas Burra, Sabine Born, David Souto



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