Focused visual attention can be shifted between objects and locations (attentional orienting) or expanded and contracted in spatial extent (attentional focusing). Although orienting and focusing both modulate visual processing, they have been shown to be distinct, independent modes of attentional control. Objects play a central role in visual attention, and it is known that high-level object representations guide attentional orienting. It not known, however, whether attentional focusing is driven by low-level object representations (which code object size in terms of retinotopic extent) or by high-level representations (which code perceived size). We manipulated the perceived size of physically identical objects by using line drawings or photographs that induced the Ponzo illusion, in a task requiring the detection of a target within these objects. The distribution of attention was determined by the perceived size and not by the retinotopic size of an attended object, indicating that attentional focusing is guided by high-level object representations
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