Feature processing and attention in the human visual system: An overview

D. J. Heslenfeld, J. L. Kenemans, A. Kok, P. C.M. Molenaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


A recent development in the cognitive modelling of visual selective attention is the incorporation of design principles derived from the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the primate visual system. In this paper, we describe these recent 'neurocognitive' models in more detail, point out the underlying neurobiological principles, and show that in all cases attention is implemented as an energetical resource which can be directed to representations and pathways in the system. In the second part of the paper, we specify the predictions derived from this 'energy hypothesis', and evaluate available data pertaining to this issue. We present new analyses of electrophysiological data in order to directly test the hypothesis that attention modulates feature-specific representations. It will be shown that in the case of sustained spatial attention, the data are in agreement with this hypothesis, whereas in the case of nonspatial attention, there is no evidence of a modulation of feature-specific pathways by attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-215
Number of pages33
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Mar 21 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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