Attentional Selection for Locations, Features, and Objects in Vision

Jens Max Hopf, Carsten N. Boehler, Mircea A. Schoenfeld, George R Mangun, Hans Jochen Heinze

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter describes neurophysiological research in humans that provides insights into the neural mechanisms mediating the different modes of attentional function. It addresses mechanisms of location selection, with a particular focus on the neural operations that determine the spatial profile of the focus of attention. It discusses data indicating that the latter is not fixed, but varies depending on top-down (voluntary or goal-directed) requirements on target selection of a given task. The evidence reviewed here is pertinent to resolving a longstanding debate about the nature of what has been metaphorically referred to as the spotlight of attention. The chapter then reviews signatures of feature based selection and focuses on mechanisms and conditions underlying its operation in a spatially global way. Finally, it considers findings that have documented the operation of object-based attention and discusses mechanisms that grant priority over feature selection. In general, it is argued that attentional selection based on locations, features, or objects is not subserved by a single neural process, but that different neural mechanisms are coordinated to operate on a tight spatiotemporal scale, to enable the organism to perceive and act in a complex and rapidly changing environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Neuroscience of Attention: Attentional Control and Selection
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199932283, 9780195334364
StatePublished - May 24 2012


  • Attentional functions
  • Feature-based selection
  • Location selection
  • Neural mechanisms
  • Object-based attention
  • Spatial profile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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