With the fast development of visual noise-shaping related applications (visual compression, error resilience, watermarking, encryption, and display), there is an increasingly significant demand on incorporating perceptual characteristics into these applications for improved performance. In this paper, a very important mechanism of the human brain, visual attention, is introduced for visual sensitivity and visual quality evaluation. Based upon the analysis, a new numerical measure for visual attention's modulatory aftereffects, perceptual quality significance map (PQSM), is proposed. To a certain extent, the PQSM reflects the processing ability of the human brain on local visual contents statistically. The PQSM is generated with the integration of local perceptual stimuli from color contrast, texture contrast, motion, as well as cognitive features (skin color and face in this study). Experimental results with subjective viewing demonstrate the performance improvement on two PQSM-modulated visual sensitivity models and two PQSM-based visual quality metrics.