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Seminar: 4/7 - The Irv Rock Memorial Lecture: Bill Prinzmetal

11:00 to 12:30 PM      at:  

Tolman Hall, 5101
Department of Psychology, UC Berkeley
"Dissecting Visual Attention."

Since the 19th century, it has been thought that there are two ways of summoning “attention.” Attention could be directed voluntarily (i.e., endogenously) or involuntary (exogenously or qutomatically). However, the consequences of involuntary and voluntary attention have been assumed to be the same. That is, there is one kind of attention that can be summoned in several different ways. We challenge this assumption demonstrating that voluntary and involuntary attention have different consequences for perception and performance, they serve different functions, and they affect different physiological processes. Voluntary attention enhances the perceptual representation for objects and locations that are important for our current goals. The function of voluntary attention is to make the perception of important objects or locations as veridical as possible. Involuntary attention, in contrast, does not enhance the perceptual representation but rather selects an object for response. The response may be an “orienting response” such a reflexive saccade, or the tendency to respond to an object in a particular location. We have found behavioral, functional imaging, and electrophysiological evidence showing dissociations between voluntary and involuntary attention.