Global Enhancement but Local Suppression in Feature Based Attention

Norman Forschack, Soren K. Andersen, Matthias M Müller

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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A key property of feature-based attention is global facilitation of the attended feature throughout the visual field. Previously, we presented superimposed red and blue randomly moving dot kinematograms (RDKs) flickering at a different frequency each to elicit frequency-specific steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEPs) that allowed us to analyze neural dynamics in early visual cortex when participants shifted attention to one of the two colors. Results showed amplification of the attended and suppression of the unattended color as measured by SSVEP amplitudes. Here, we tested whether the suppression of the unattended color also operates globally. To this end, we presented superimposed flickering red and blue RDKs in the center of a screen and a red and blue RDK in the left and right periphery, respectively, also flickering at different frequencies. Participants shifted attention to one color of the superimposed RDKs in the center to discriminate coherent motion events in the attended from the unattended color RDK, whereas the peripheral RDKs were task irrelevant. SSVEP amplitudes elicited by the centrally presented RDKs confirmed the previous findings of amplification and suppression. For peripherally located RDKs, we found the expected SSVEP amplitude increase, relative to precue baseline when color matched the one of the centrally attended RDK. We found no reduction in SSVEP amplitude relative to precue baseline, when the peripheral color matched the unattended one of the central RDK, indicating that, while facilitation in feature-based attention operates globally, suppression seems to be linked to the location of focused attention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-627
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number4
Early online date29 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • feature-based attention
  • steady-state visual evoked potentials (SSVEP)
  • global facilitation/suppression
  • human early visual cortex


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