Vision outside the focus of attention.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Perception & psychophysics, Volume 48, Number 1, p.45–58 (1990)


0031-5117 (Print)



Attention, Discrimination Learning, Fixation, Form Perception, Humans, Ocular, Orientation, Pattern Recognition, Perceptual Masking, Psychophysics, Visual, Visual Fields


We investigated the relationship between focal attention and a feature-gradient detection that is performed in a parallel manner. We found that a feature gradient can be detected without measurable impairment of performance even while a concurrent form-recognition task is carried out. In spite of the fact that the form-recognition task engages focal attention and thus removes attentive resources from the vicinity of the feature gradient. This outcome suggests strongly that certain perceptions concerning salient boundaries and singularities in a visual scene can be accomplished without the aid of resource-limited processes, such as focal attention, and, by implication, that there may exist two distinct perceptual faculties (one attentive, the other not) that are able to bring complementary kinds of visual information simultaneously to our awareness.