Perceptual load and visuocortical processing: event-related potentials reveal sensory-level selection.
Psychol Sci 12(3):213-8.
Behavioral evidence suggests that the processing of parafoveal stimuli decreases as the perceptual demands of a task at fixation increase. However, it remains unclear whether or not this effect of perceptual load occurs during initial sensory-level processing at early stages of visuocortical analysis. Using event-related potential measures, we found that increasing the perceptual load of foveal targets led to a significant decrease in the sensory-evoked response to parafoveal stimuli. Moreover, these effects were observed using two different operational definitions of perceptual load. This result indicates that perceptual load affects the flow of information during the initial stages of visuocortical processing.