Carrasco, M., Williams, P. E., & Yeshurun, Y. (2002). Covert attention
increases spatial resolution with or without masks: Support for signal
enhancement. Journal of Vision, 2(6): 467-479, http://journalofvision.org/2/6/4/,
Visual attention can increase spatial resolution even when it
leads to a decrease in performance. Whether this effect is mediated by
reduction of external noise or by signal enhancement is an unsettled question.
Although we previously demonstrated that attention can improve speed and
accuracy in an acuity task, those experiments made use of a local postmask,
which could be considered a source of external noise. In this work, a
peripheral cue improved observersŐ abilities to indicate which side of
a Landolt-square target had a gap whether or not a local postmask was
used and with both central- and spread-neutral cues. In addition, we documented
the presence of visual field inhomogeneities in a resolution task. Given
that these experiments presented the target alone with no external noise
added (i.e., without distracters or masks), our results indicate that
transient attention enhanced the quality of the stimulus representation.
Furthermore, because performance in the Landolt-square task indexes resolution,
this attentional benefit indicates that transient attention can produce
signal enhancement through finer spatial resolution.