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The role of low-level stimulus-driven control in the guidance of overt visual attention has been difficult to establish because low- and high-level visual content are spatially correlated within natural visual stimuli. Here we show that impairment of parietal cortical areas, either permanently by a lesion or reversibly by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), leads to fixation of locations with higher values of low-level features as compared to control subjects or in a no-rTMS condition. Moreover, this unmasking of stimulus-driven control crucially depends on the intrahemispheric balance between top-down and bottom-up cortical areas. This result suggests that although in normal behavior high-level features might exert a strong influence, low-level features do contribute to guide visual selection during the exploration of complex natural stimuli.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





3478 - 3487


Adult, Aged, Attention, Eye Movements, Female, Functional Laterality, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Perceptual Disorders, Perceptual Masking, Photic Stimulation, Reaction Time, Space Perception, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Young Adult