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  • 1 Neurobiology Research Group, United Research Organization of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Semmelweis University Medical School, and Analogical and Neural Computing Laboratory, Computer and Automation Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary Tűzoltó u. 58, H-1094 Budapest, Hungary
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The effect of focal visual attention on backward pattern masking was investigated using an orientation discrimination task. The results show that attention reduces primarily the effect of interruption masking, the later component of pattern masking, which occurs when the delay between the target and mask onset is about 50–150 ms. The strongest spatial cueing effect, i.e. the strongest reduction of the orientation discrimination threshold due to focal attention, was observed at intermediate (~100 ms) target-to-mask stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA). There was a weak effect of cueing at shorter SOAs, and no or a very weak attentional effect was present at longer target-to-mask SOAs, where the pattern masking effect is absent. The dynamics of attentional modulation of backward pattern masking correlates closely with the dynamics of the attentional modulation of neuronal responses in the early visual cortex.

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