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1.  Detection is unaffected by the deployment of focal attention 
There has been much debate regarding how much information humans can extract from their environment without the use of limited attentional resources. In a recent study, Theeuwes et al. (2008) argued that even detection of simple feature targets is not possible without selection by focal attention. Supporting this claim, they found response time (RT) benefits in a simple feature (color) detection task when a target letter's identity was repeated on consecutive trials, suggesting that the letter was selected by focal attention and identified prior to detection. This intertrial repetition benefit remained even when observers were required to simultaneously identify a central digit. However, we found that intertrial repetition benefits disappeared when a simple color target was presented among a heterogeneously (rather than homogeneously) colored set of distractors, thus reducing its bottom–up salience. Still, detection performance remained high. Thus, detection performance was unaffected by whether a letter was focally attended and identified prior to detection or not. Intertrial identity repetition benefits also disappeared when observers were required to perform a simultaneous, attention-demanding central task (Experiment 2), or when unfamiliar Chinese characters were used (Experiment 3). Together, these results suggest that while shifts of focal attention can be affected by target salience, by the availability of excess cognitive resources, and by target familiarity, detection performance itself is unaffected by these manipulations and is thus unaffected by the deployment of focal attention.
doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00284
PMCID: PMC3664323  PMID: 23750142
focal attention; perception; salience; locus of selection; priming
2.  Affective Salience Can Reverse the Effects of Stimulus-Driven Salience on Eye Movements in Complex Scenes 
In natural vision both stimulus features and cognitive/affective factors influence an observer’s attention. However, the relationship between stimulus-driven (“bottom-up”) and cognitive/affective (“top-down”) factors remains controversial: Can affective salience counteract strong visual stimulus signals and shift attention allocation irrespective of bottom-up features? Is there any difference between negative and positive scenes in terms of their influence on attention deployment? Here we examined the impact of affective factors on eye movement behavior, to understand the competition between visual stimulus-driven salience and affective salience and how they affect gaze allocation in complex scene viewing. Building on our previous research, we compared predictions generated by a visual salience model with measures indexing participant-identified emotionally meaningful regions of each image. To examine how eye movement behavior differs for negative, positive, and neutral scenes, we examined the influence of affective salience in capturing attention according to emotional valence. Taken together, our results show that affective salience can override stimulus-driven salience and overall emotional valence can determine attention allocation in complex scenes. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that cognitive/affective factors play a dominant role in active gaze control.
doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00336
PMCID: PMC3457078  PMID: 23055990
affective salience; visual salience; eye movements; attention; top-down; bottom-up; stimulus-driven; regions of interest
3.  Coding of saliency by ensemble bursting in the amygdala of primates 
Salient parts of a visual scene attract longer and earlier fixations of the eyes. Saliency is driven by bottom-up (image dependent) factors and top-down factors such as behavioral relevance, goals, and expertise. It is currently assumed that a saliency map defining eye fixation priorities is stored in neural structures that remain to be determined. Lesion studies support a role for the amygdala in detecting saliency. Here we show that neurons in the amygdala of primates fire differentially when the eyes approach to or fixate behaviorally relevant parts of visual scenes. Ensemble bursting in the amygdala accurately predicts main fixations during the free-viewing of natural images. However, fixation prediction is significantly better for faces—where a bottom-up computational saliency model fails—compared to unfamiliar objects and landscapes. On this basis we propose the amygdala as a locus for a saliency map and ensemble bursting as a saliency coding mechanism.
doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2012.00038
PMCID: PMC3404502  PMID: 22848193
active vision; amygdala; ensemble bursting; fixations; saliency
4.  A model of top-down attentional control during visual search in complex scenes 
Journal of vision  2009;9(5):10.1167/9.5.25.
Recently, there has been great interest among vision researchers in developing computational models that predict the distribution of saccadic endpoints in naturalistic scenes. In many of these studies, subjects are instructed to view scenes without any particular task in mind so that stimulus-driven (bottom-up) processes guide visual attention. However, whenever there is a search task, goal-driven (top-down) processes tend to dominate guidance, as indicated by attention being systematically biased toward image features that resemble those of the search target. In the present study, we devise a top-down model of visual attention during search in complex scenes based on similarity between the target and regions of the search scene. Similarity is defined for several feature dimensions such as orientation or spatial frequency using a histogram-matching technique. The amount of attentional guidance across visual feature dimensions is predicted by a previously introduced informativeness measure. We use eye-movement data gathered from participants’ search of a set of naturalistic scenes to evaluate the model. The model is found to predict the distribution of saccadic endpoints in search displays nearly as accurately as do other observers’ eye-movement data in the same displays.
doi:10.1167/9.5.25
PMCID: PMC3863603  PMID: 19757903
visual search; visual attention; top-down attentional control; real-world scenes; informativeness; eye tracking; eye movements; saccadic selectivity; scene perception
5.  Object-based selection modulates top-down attentional shifts 
A large body of evidence supports that visual attention – the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on a salient or task-relevant subset of visual information – often works on object-based representation. Recent studies have postulated two possible accounts for the object-specific attentional advantage: attentional spreading and attentional prioritization, each of which modulates a bottom-up signal for sensory processing and a top-down signal for attentional allocation, respectively. It is still unclear which account can explain the object-specific attentional advantage. To address this issue, we examined the influence of object-specific advantage on two types of visual search: parallel search, invoked when a bottom-up signal is fully available at a target location, and serial search, invoked when a bottom-up signal is not enough to guide target selection and a top-down control for shifting of focused attention is required. Our results revealed that the object-specific advantage is given to the serial search but not to the parallel search, suggesting that object-based attention facilitates stimulus processing by affecting the priority of attentional shifts rather than by enhancing sensory signals. Thus, our findings support the notion that the object-specific attentional advantage can be explained by attentional prioritization but not attentional spreading.
doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00090
PMCID: PMC3930853  PMID: 24600379
visual attention; object-based attention; attentional prioritization; attentional spreading; object-specific advantage; visual search; parallel and serial search; psychophysics
6.  Early involvement of prefrontal cortex in visual bottom up attention 
Nature neuroscience  2012;15(8):1160-1166.
Visual attention is guided to stimuli based either on their intrinsic saliency against their background (bottom-up factors) or through willful search of known targets (top-down factors). Posterior parietal cortex is thought to play a critical role in the guidance of visual bottom-up attention, whereas prefrontal cortex is thought to represent top-down factors. Contrary to this established view, we found that when monkeys were tested in a task requiring detection of a salient stimulus defined purely by bottom-up factors and whose identity was unknown prior to the presentation of a visual display, prefrontal neurons represented the salient stimulus no later than those in the posterior parietal cortex. This was true even though visual response latency was shorter in parietal than in prefrontal cortex. These results suggest an early involvement of the prefrontal cortex in the bottom-up guidance of visual attention.
doi:10.1038/nn.3164
PMCID: PMC3411913  PMID: 22820465
7.  The Role of Attentional Priority and Saliency in Determining Capacity Limits in Enumeration and Visual Working Memory 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29296.
Many common tasks require us to individuate in parallel two or more objects out of a complex scene. Although the mechanisms underlying our abilities to count the number of items, remember the visual properties of objects and to make saccadic eye movements towards targets have been studied separately, each of these tasks require selection of individual objects and shows a capacity limit. Here we show that a common factor—salience—determines the capacity limit in the various tasks. We manipulated bottom-up salience (visual contrast) and top-down salience (task relevance) in enumeration and visual memory tasks. As one item became increasingly salient, the subitizing range was reduced and memory performance for all other less-salient items was decreased. Overall, the pattern of results suggests that our abilities to enumerate and remember small groups of stimuli are grounded in an attentional priority or salience map which represents the location of important items.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029296
PMCID: PMC3241709  PMID: 22195041
8.  Modeling the Effect of Selection History on Pop-Out Visual Search 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e89996.
While attentional effects in visual selection tasks have traditionally been assigned “top-down” or “bottom-up” origins, more recently it has been proposed that there are three major factors affecting visual selection: (1) physical salience, (2) current goals and (3) selection history. Here, we look further into selection history by investigating Priming of Pop-out (POP) and the Distractor Preview Effect (DPE), two inter-trial effects that demonstrate the influence of recent history on visual search performance. Using the Ratcliff diffusion model, we model observed saccadic selections from an oddball search experiment that included a mix of both POP and DPE conditions. We find that the Ratcliff diffusion model can effectively model the manner in which selection history affects current attentional control in visual inter-trial effects. The model evidence shows that bias regarding the current trial's most likely target color is the most critical parameter underlying the effect of selection history. Our results are consistent with the view that the 3-item color-oddball task used for POP and DPE experiments is best understood as an attentional decision making task.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089996
PMCID: PMC3940711  PMID: 24595032
9.  Influence of Low-Level Stimulus Features, Task Dependent Factors, and Spatial Biases on Overt Visual Attention 
PLoS Computational Biology  2010;6(5):e1000791.
Visual attention is thought to be driven by the interplay between low-level visual features and task dependent information content of local image regions, as well as by spatial viewing biases. Though dependent on experimental paradigms and model assumptions, this idea has given rise to varying claims that either bottom-up or top-down mechanisms dominate visual attention. To contribute toward a resolution of this discussion, here we quantify the influence of these factors and their relative importance in a set of classification tasks. Our stimuli consist of individual image patches (bubbles). For each bubble we derive three measures: a measure of salience based on low-level stimulus features, a measure of salience based on the task dependent information content derived from our subjects' classification responses and a measure of salience based on spatial viewing biases. Furthermore, we measure the empirical salience of each bubble based on our subjects' measured eye gazes thus characterizing the overt visual attention each bubble receives. A multivariate linear model relates the three salience measures to overt visual attention. It reveals that all three salience measures contribute significantly. The effect of spatial viewing biases is highest and rather constant in different tasks. The contribution of task dependent information is a close runner-up. Specifically, in a standardized task of judging facial expressions it scores highly. The contribution of low-level features is, on average, somewhat lower. However, in a prototypical search task, without an available template, it makes a strong contribution on par with the two other measures. Finally, the contributions of the three factors are only slightly redundant, and the semi-partial correlation coefficients are only slightly lower than the coefficients for full correlations. These data provide evidence that all three measures make significant and independent contributions and that none can be neglected in a model of human overt visual attention.
Author Summary
In our lifetime we make about 5 billion eye movements. Yet our knowledge about what determines where we look at is surprisingly sketchy. Some traditional approaches assume that gaze is guided by simple image properties like local contrast (low-level features). Recent arguments emphasize the influence of tasks (high-level features) and motor constraints (spatial bias). The relative importance of these factors is still a topic of debate. In this study, subjects view and classify natural scenery and faces while their eye movements are recorded. The stimuli are composed of small image patches. For each of these patches we derive a measure for low-level features and spatial bias. Utilizing the subjects' classification responses, we additionally derive a measure reflecting the information content of a patch with respect to the classification task (high-level features). We show that the effect of spatial bias is highest, that high-level features are a close runner-up, and that low-level features have, on average, a smaller influence. Remarkably, the different contributions are mostly independent. Hence, all three measures contribute to the guidance of eye movements and have to be considered in a model of human visual attention.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000791
PMCID: PMC2873902  PMID: 20502672
10.  Dissociable effects of bottom-up and top-down factors in the processing of unattended fearful faces 
Neuropsychologia  2007;45(13):3075-3086.
While the role of attention in determining the neural fate of unattended emotional items has been investigated in the past, it remains unclear whether bottom-up and top-down factors have differential effects in shaping responses evoked by such stimuli. To study the effects of bottom-up and top-down factors on the processing of neutral and fearful faces, we employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while participants performed attentional tasks that manipulated these factors. To probe the impact of top-down mechanisms on the processing of face distractors, target letters either had to be found among several distinct nontarget letters (attentional load condition) or among identical nontarget letters (baseline condition). To probe the impact of bottom-up factors, we decreased the salience of the targets by reducing their size and contrast relative to baseline (salience condition). Our findings revealed that bottom-up and top-down manipulations produced dissociable effects on amygdala and fusiform gyrus responses to fearful-face distractors when task difficulty was equated. When the attentional load of the main task was high, weaker responses were evoked by fearful-face distractors relative to baseline during the early trials. By contrast, decreasing target salience resulted in increased responses relative to baseline. The present findings suggest that responses evoked by unattended fearful faces are modulated by several factors, including attention and stimulus salience.
doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.05.019
PMCID: PMC2045638  PMID: 17631362
attention; emotion; perception; facial expressions; fMRI
11.  When Art Moves the Eyes: A Behavioral and Eye-Tracking Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37285.
The aim of this study was to investigate, using eye-tracking technique, the influence of bottom-up and top-down processes on visual behavior while subjects, naïve to art criticism, were presented with representational paintings. Forty-two subjects viewed color and black and white paintings (Color) categorized as dynamic or static (Dynamism) (bottom-up processes). Half of the images represented natural environments and half human subjects (Content); all stimuli were displayed under aesthetic and movement judgment conditions (Task) (top-down processes). Results on gazing behavior showed that content-related top-down processes prevailed over low-level visually-driven bottom-up processes when a human subject is represented in the painting. On the contrary, bottom-up processes, mediated by low-level visual features, particularly affected gazing behavior when looking at nature-content images. We discuss our results proposing a reconsideration of the definition of content-related top-down processes in accordance with the concept of embodied simulation in art perception.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037285
PMCID: PMC3356266  PMID: 22624007
12.  SUN: Top-down saliency using natural statistics 
Visual cognition  2009;17(6-7):979-1003.
When people try to find particular objects in natural scenes they make extensive use of knowledge about how and where objects tend to appear in a scene. Although many forms of such “top-down” knowledge have been incorporated into saliency map models of visual search, surprisingly, the role of object appearance has been infrequently investigated. Here we present an appearance-based saliency model derived in a Bayesian framework. We compare our approach with both bottom-up saliency algorithms as well as the state-of-the-art Contextual Guidance model of Torralba et al. (2006) at predicting human fixations. Although both top-down approaches use very different types of information, they achieve similar performance; each substantially better than the purely bottom-up models. Our experiments reveal that a simple model of object appearance can predict human fixations quite well, even making the same mistakes as people.
doi:10.1080/13506280902771138
PMCID: PMC2967792  PMID: 21052485
Attention; Saliency; Eye movements; Visual search; Natural statistics
13.  A value-driven mechanism of attentional selection 
Journal of Vision  2013;13(3):7.
Attention selects stimuli for cognitive processing, and the mechanisms that underlie the process of attentional selection have been a major topic of psychological research for over 30 years. From this research, it has been well documented that attentional selection can proceed both voluntarily, driven by visual search goals, and involuntarily, driven by the physical salience of stimuli. In this review, I provide a conceptual framework for attentional control that emphasizes the need for stimulus selection to promote the survival and wellbeing of an organism. I argue that although goal-driven and salience-driven mechanisms of attentional selection fit within this framework, a central component that is missing is a mechanism of attentional selection that is uniquely driven by learned associations between stimuli and rewards. I go on to review recent evidence for such a value-driven mechanism of attentional selection, and describe how this mechanism functions independently of the well-documented salience-driven and goal-driven mechanisms. I conclude by arguing that reward learning modifies the attentional priority of stimuli, allowing them to compete more effectively for selection even when nonsalient and task-irrelevant.
doi:10.1167/13.3.7
PMCID: PMC3630531  PMID: 23589803
attentional capture; reward learning; incentive salience
14.  Directed Self-Assembly: Expectations and Achievements 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2010;5(9):1367-1376.
Nanotechnology has been a revolutionary thrust in recent years of development of science and technology for its broad appeal for employing a novel idea for relevant technological applications in particular and for mass-scale production and marketing as common man commodity in general. An interesting aspect of this emergent technology is that it involves scientific research community and relevant industries alike. Top–down and bottom–up approaches are two broad division of production of nanoscale materials in general. However, both the approaches have their own limits as far as large-scale production and cost involved are concerned. Therefore, novel new techniques are desired to be developed to optimize production and cost. Directed self-assembly seems to be a promising technique in this regard; which can work as a bridge between the top–down and bottom–up approaches. This article reviews how directed self-assembly as a technique has grown up and outlines its future prospects.
doi:10.1007/s11671-010-9696-9
PMCID: PMC2920426  PMID: 20730077
Nanotechnology; Directed self-assembly; Template assisted growth; Field-induced growth
15.  Directed Self-Assembly: Expectations and Achievements 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2010;5(9):1367-1376.
Nanotechnology has been a revolutionary thrust in recent years of development of science and technology for its broad appeal for employing a novel idea for relevant technological applications in particular and for mass-scale production and marketing as common man commodity in general. An interesting aspect of this emergent technology is that it involves scientific research community and relevant industries alike. Top–down and bottom–up approaches are two broad division of production of nanoscale materials in general. However, both the approaches have their own limits as far as large-scale production and cost involved are concerned. Therefore, novel new techniques are desired to be developed to optimize production and cost. Directed self-assembly seems to be a promising technique in this regard; which can work as a bridge between the top–down and bottom–up approaches. This article reviews how directed self-assembly as a technique has grown up and outlines its future prospects.
doi:10.1007/s11671-010-9696-9
PMCID: PMC2920426  PMID: 20730077
Nanotechnology; Directed self-assembly; Template assisted growth; Field-induced growth
16.  Pitting binding against selection: electrophysiological measures of feature-based attention are attenuated by Gestalt object grouping 
Humans have limited cognitive resources to process the nearly limitless information available in the environment. Endogenous, or “top-down”, selective attention to basic visual features such as color or motion is a common strategy for biasing resources in favor of the most relevant information sources in a given context. Opposing this top-down separation of features is a “bottom-up” tendency to integrate, or bind, the various features that constitute objects. We pitted these two processes against each other in an electrophysiological experiment to test if top-down selective attention can overcome constitutive binding processes. Our results demonstrate that bottom-up binding processes can dominate top-down feature-based attention even when explicitly detrimental to task performance.
doi:10.1111/j.1460-9568.2012.08016.x
PMCID: PMC3413197  PMID: 22429245
Object-processing; Attention; Feature-based selection; binding; ERP
17.  Neural suppression of irrelevant information underlies optimal working memory performance 
Our ability to focus attention on task-relevant information and ignore distractions is reflected by differential enhancement and suppression of neural activity in sensory cortex (i.e., top-down modulation). Such selective, goal-directed modulation of activity may be intimately related to memory, such that the focus of attention biases the likelihood of successfully maintaining relevant information by limiting interference from irrelevant stimuli. Despite recent studies elucidating the mechanistic overlap between attention and memory, the relationship between top-down modulation of visual processing during working memory (WM) encoding and subsequent recognition performance has not yet been established. Here, we provide neurophysiological evidence in healthy, young adults that top-down modulation of early visual processing (< 200 ms from stimulus onset) is intimately related to subsequent WM performance, such that the likelihood of successfully remembering relevant information is associated with limiting interference from irrelevant stimuli. The consequences of a failure to ignore distractors on recognition performance was replicated for two types of feature-based memory, motion direction and color. Moreover, attention to irrelevant stimuli was reflected neurally during the WM maintenance period as an increased memory load. These results suggest that neural enhancement of relevant information is not the primary determinant of high-level performance, but rather, optimal WM performance is dependent on effectively filtering irrelevant information through neural suppression to prevent overloading a limited memory capacity.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4621-08.2009
PMCID: PMC2704557  PMID: 19279242
working memory; selective attention; top-down modulation; EEG; vision; behavioral performance
18.  Evaluating the Influence of Motor Control on Selective Attention through a Stochastic Model: The Paradigm of Motor Control Dysfunction in Cerebellar Patient 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:162423.
Attention allows us to selectively process the vast amount of information with which we are confronted, prioritizing some aspects of information and ignoring others by focusing on a certain location or aspect of the visual scene. Selective attention is guided by two cognitive mechanisms: saliency of the image (bottom up) and endogenous mechanisms (top down). These two mechanisms interact to direct attention and plan eye movements; then, the movement profile is sent to the motor system, which must constantly update the command needed to produce the desired eye movement. A new approach is described here to study how the eye motor control could influence this selection mechanism in clinical behavior: two groups of patients (SCA2 and late onset cerebellar ataxia LOCA) with well-known problems of motor control were studied; patients performed a cognitively demanding task; the results were compared to a stochastic model based on Monte Carlo simulations and a group of healthy subjects. The analytical procedure evaluated some energy functions for understanding the process. The implemented model suggested that patients performed an optimal visual search, reducing intrinsic noise sources. Our findings theorize a strict correlation between the “optimal motor system” and the “optimal stimulus encoders.”
doi:10.1155/2014/162423
PMCID: PMC3932822  PMID: 24672782
19.  Ecology of Caribbean Sponges: Are Top-Down or Bottom-Up Processes More Important? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79799.
Benthic-pelagic coupling and the role of bottom-up versus top-down processes are recognized as having a major impact on the structure of marine communities. While the roles of bottom-up processes are better appreciated they are still viewed as principally affecting the outcome of top-down processes. Sponges on coral reefs are important members of the benthic community and provide a critically important functional linkage between water-column productivity and the benthos. As active suspension feeders sponges utilize the abundant autotrophic and heterotrophic picoplankton in the water column. As a result sponges across the Caribbean basin exhibit a consistent and significant pattern of greater biomass, tube extension rate, and species numbers with increasing depth. Likewise, the abundance of their food supply also increases along a depth gradient. Using experimental manipulations it has recently been reported that predation is the primary determinant of sponge community structure. Here we provide data showing that the size and growth of the sponge Callyspongia vaginalis are significantly affected by food availability. Sponges increased in size and tube extension rate with increasing depth down to 46 m, while simultaneously exposed to the full range of potential spongivores at all depths. Additionally, we point out important flaws in the experimental design used to demonstrate the role of predation and suggest that a resolution of this important question will require well-controlled, multi-factorial experiments to examine the independent and interactive effects of predation and food abundance on the ecology of sponges.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079799
PMCID: PMC3823584  PMID: 24244563
20.  Top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in biasing competition in the human brain 
Vision research  2008;49(10):1154-1165.
The biased competition theory of selective attention has been an influential neural theory of attention, motivating numerous animal and human studies of visual attention and visual representation. There is now neural evidence in favor of all three of its most basic principles: that representation in the visual system is competitive; that both top-down and bottom-up biasing mechanisms influence the ongoing competition; and that competition is integrated across brain systems. We review the evidence in favor of these three principles, and in particular, findings related to six more specific neural predictions derived from these original principles.
doi:10.1016/j.visres.2008.07.012
PMCID: PMC2740806  PMID: 18694779
Visual attention; Suppression; Brain; Bias; fMRI
21.  A Pure Salience Response in Posterior Parietal Cortex 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2011;21(11):2498-2506.
When exploring a visual scene, some objects perceptually popout because of a difference of color, shape, or size. This bottom-up information is an important part of many models describing the allocation of visual attention. It has been hypothesized that the lateral intraparietal area (LIP) acts as a “priority map,” integrating bottom-up and top-down information to guide the allocation of attention. Despite a large literature describing top-down influences in LIP, the presence of a pure salience response to a salient stimulus defined by its static features alone has not been reported. We compared LIP responses with colored salient stimuli and distractors in a passive fixation task. Many LIP neurons responded preferentially to 1 of the 2 colored stimuli, yet the mean responses to the salient stimuli were significantly higher than to distractors, independent of the features of the stimuli. These enhanced responses were significant within 75 ms, and the mean responses to salient and distractor stimuli were tightly correlated, suggesting a simple gain control. We propose that a pure salience signal rapidly appears in LIP by collating salience signals from earlier visual areas. This contributes to the creation of a priority map, which is used to guide attention and saccades.
doi:10.1093/cercor/bhr035
PMCID: PMC3218666  PMID: 21422270
attention; electrophysiology; lateral intraparietal area; popout; vision
22.  Developmental Changes in Natural Viewing Behavior: Bottom-Up and Top-Down Differences between Children, Young Adults and Older Adults 
Despite the growing interest in fixation selection under natural conditions, there is a major gap in the literature concerning its developmental aspects. Early in life, bottom-up processes, such as local image feature – color, luminance contrast etc. – guided viewing, might be prominent but later overshadowed by more top-down processing. Moreover, with decline in visual functioning in old age, bottom-up processing is known to suffer. Here we recorded eye movements of 7- to 9-year-old children, 19- to 27-year-old adults, and older adults above 72 years of age while they viewed natural and complex images before performing a patch-recognition task. Task performance displayed the classical inverted U-shape, with young adults outperforming the other age groups. Fixation discrimination performance of local feature values dropped with age. Whereas children displayed the highest feature values at fixated points, suggesting a bottom-up mechanism, older adult viewing behavior was less feature-dependent, reminiscent of a top-down strategy. Importantly, we observed a double dissociation between children and elderly regarding the effects of active viewing on feature-related viewing: Explorativeness correlated with feature-related viewing negatively in young age, and positively in older adults. The results indicate that, with age, bottom-up fixation selection loses strength and/or the role of top-down processes becomes more important. Older adults who increase their feature-related viewing by being more explorative make use of this low-level information and perform better in the task. The present study thus reveals an important developmental change in natural and task-guided viewing.
doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00207
PMCID: PMC3153813  PMID: 21833263
age differences; development; overt attention; natural scenes; eye movements
23.  Top-down versus bottom-up attentional control: a failed theoretical dichotomy 
Trends in cognitive sciences  2012;16(8):437-443.
Prominent models of attentional control assert a dichotomy between top-down and bottom-up control, with the former determined by current selection goals and the latter determined by physical salience. This theoretical dichotomy, however, fails to explain a growing number of cases in which neither current goals nor physical salience can account for strong selection biases. For example, equally salient stimuli associated with reward can capture attention, even when this contradicts current selection goals. Thus, although ‘top-down’ sources of bias are sometimes defined as those that are not due to physical salience, this conception conflates distinct – and sometimes contradictory – sources of selection bias. We describe an alternative framework, in which past selection history is integrated with current goals and physical salience to shape an integrated priority map.
doi:10.1016/j.tics.2012.06.010
PMCID: PMC3426354  PMID: 22795563
24.  Toxoplasma gondii: 25 years and 25 major advances for the field 
This article is an attempt to identify the most significant highlights of Toxoplasma research over the last 25 years. It has been a period of enormous progress and the top 25 most significant advances, in the view of this author, are described. These range from the bench to the bedside and represent a tremendous body of work from countless investigators. And, having laid out so much that has been discovered, it is impossible not to also reflect on the challenges that lie ahead. These, too, are briefly discussed. Finally, while every effort has been made to view the field as a whole, the molecular biology background of the author almost certainly will have skewed the relative importance attached to past and future advances. Despite this, it is hoped that the reader will agree with, or at least not disagree too strongly with, most of the choices presented here.
PMCID: PMC2895946  PMID: 19630140
Toxoplasma gondii; Cell biology; Population biology; Molecular biology; Genetics; Diagnosis; Vaccines; Treatment
25.  A distributed neural system for top-down face processing 
Neuroscience letters  2008;451(1):6-10.
Evidence suggests that the neural system associated with face processing is a distributed cortical network containing both bottom-up and top-down mechanisms. While bottom-up face processing has been the focus of many studies, the neural areas involved in the top-down face processing have not been extensively investigated due to difficulty in isolating top-down influences from the bottom-up response engendered by presentation of a face. In the present study, we used a novel experimental method to induce illusory face detection. This method allowed for directly examining the neural systems involved in top-down face processing while minimizing the influence of bottom-up perceptual input. A distributed cortical network of top-down face processing was identified by analyzing the functional connectivity patterns of the right fusiform face area (FFA). This distributed cortical network model for face processing includes both “core” and “extended” face processing areas. It also includes left anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), bilateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), left premotor cortex, and left inferior parietal cortex. These findings suggest that top-down face processing contains not only regions for analyzing the visual appearance of faces, but also those involved in processing low spatial frequency (LSF) information, decision making, and working memory.
doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2008.12.039
PMCID: PMC2634849  PMID: 19121364
top-down processing; psychophysiological interaction (PPI); distributed cortical network; fMRI; face processing

Results 1-25 (709868)