Understanding the allocation of attention when faced with varying perceptual load in partial report: A computational approach

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The allocation of visual processing capacity is a key topic in studies and theories of visual attention. The load theory of Lavie (1995) proposes that allocation happens in two steps where processing resources are first allocated to task-relevant stimuli and secondly remaining capacity 'spills over' to task-irrelevant distractors. In contrast, the Theory of Visual Attention (TVA) proposed by Bundesen (1990) assumes that allocation happens in a single step where processing capacity is allocated to all stimuli, both task-relevant and task-irrelevant, in proportion to their relative attentional weight. Here we present data from two partial report experiments where we varied the number and discriminability of the task-irrelevant stimuli (Experiment 1) and perceptual load (Experiment 2). The TVA fitted the data of the two experiments well thus favoring the simple explanation with a single step of capacity allocation. We also show that the effects of varying perceptual load can only be explained by a combined effect of allocation of processing capacity as well as limits in visual working memory. Finally, we link the results to processing capacity understood at the neural level based on the neural theory of visual attention by Bundesen et al. (2005).
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)1487–1497
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - 1 maj 2011

ID: 32639931