The brain effortlessly recognizes objects even when the visual information belonging to an object is widely separated, as well demonstrated by the Kanizsa-type illusory contours (ICs), in which a contour is perceived despite the fragments of the contour being separated by gaps. Such large-range visual completion has long been thought to be preattentive, whereas its dependence on top-down influences remains unclear. Here, we report separate modulations by spatial attention and task relevance on the neural activities in response to the ICs. IC-sensitive event-related potentials that were localized to the lateral occipital cortex were modulated by spatial attention at an early processing stage (130–166 ms after stimulus onset) and modulated by task relevance at a later processing stage (234–290 ms). These results not only demonstrate top-down attentional influences on the neural processing of ICs but also elucidate the characteristics of the attentional modulations that occur in different phases of IC processing.
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Wu, X., Zhou, L., Qian, C., Gan, L., & Zhang, D. (2015). Attentional modulations of the early and later stages of the neural processing of visual completion. Scientific Reports, 5, . https://doi.org/10.1038/srep08346