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Often, when we're interested in an object, we move our eyes toward it, allowing us to see it more clearly. However, it has long been known that even in the absence of overt movements, perception of an object in the periphery can be improved by covertly shifting attention to it. Covert attention refers to our ability to internally modulate sensory processing of a selected stimulus. Attention can improve perception of the attended object, even though the input to the system (the physical stimulus reaching the retina, for example) is unchanged.

When we shift attention to an object, it may appear clearer, more distinct, or more intense, whereas ignored objects may seem less distracting or even fade from awareness. These perceptual effects are caused by changes in ...

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