Attention-based long-lasting sensitization and suppression of colors

Chia Huei Tseng, Zoltan Vidnyanszky, Thomas Papathomas, George Sperling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In contrast to the short-duration and quick reversibility of attention, a long-term sensitization to color based on protracted attention in a visual search task was reported by Tseng, Gobell, and Sperling (2004). When subjects were trained for a few hours to search for a red object among colored distracters, sensitivity to red was increased for weeks. This sensitization was quantified using ambiguous motion displays containing isoluminant red-green and texture-contrast gratings, in which the perceived motiondirection depended both on the attended color and on the relative red-green saturation. Such long-term effects could result from either sensitization of the attended color, or suppression of unattended colors, or a combination of the two. Here we unconfound these effects by eliminating one of the paired colors of the motion display from the search task. The other paired color in the motion display can then be either a target or a distracter in the search task. Thereby, we separately measure the effect of attention on sensitizing the target color or suppressing distracter colors. The results indicate that only sensitization of the target color in the search task is statistically significant for the present experimental conditions. We conclude that selective attention to a color in our visual search task caused long-term sensitization to the attended color but not significant long-term suppression of the unattended color.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-423
Number of pages8
JournalVision Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 22 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


  • Attention
  • Feature-based attention
  • Learning
  • Sensitization
  • Suppression
  • Third-order motion


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