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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

September 2011, Vol. 23, No. 9, Pages 2231-2239
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.2010.21558)
© 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Object-based Selection of Irrelevant Features Is Not Confined to the Attended Object
Article PDF (389.22 KB)

Attention to one feature of an object can bias the processing of unattended features of that object. Here we demonstrate with ERPs in visual search that this object-based bias for an irrelevant feature also appears in an unattended object when it shares that feature with the target object. Specifically, we show that the ERP response elicited by a distractor object in one visual field is modulated as a function of whether a task-irrelevant color of that distractor is also present in the target object that is presented in the opposite visual field. Importantly, we find this modulation to arise with a delay of approximately 80 msec relative to the N2pc—a component of the ERP response that reflects the focusing of attention onto the target. In a second experiment, we demonstrate that this modulation reflects enhanced neural processing in the unattended object. These observations together facilitate the surprising conclusion that the object-based selection of irrelevant features is spatially global even after attention has selected the target object.