Identifying Bottom-Up and Top-Down Components of Attentional Weight by Experimental Analysis and Computational Modeling

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The attentional weight of a visual object depends on the contrast of the features of the object to its local surroundings (feature contrast) and the relevance of the features to one’s goals (feature relevance). We investigated the dependency in partial report experiments with briefly presented stimuli but unspeeded
responses. The task was to report the letters from a mixture of letters (targets) and digits (distractors). Color was irrelevant to the task, but many stimulus displays contained an item (target or distractor) in a deviant color (a color singleton). The results showed concurrent effects of feature contrast (color
singleton vs. nonsingleton) and relevance (target vs. distractor). A singleton target had a higher probability of being reported than did a nonsingleton target, and a singleton distractor interfered more strongly with report of targets than did a nonsingleton distractor. Measured by use of Bundesen’s (1990) computational theory of visual attention, the attentional weight of a singleton object was nearly
proportional to the weight of an otherwise similar nonsingleton object, with a factor of proportionality that increased with the strength of the feature contrast of the singleton. This result is explained by generalizing the weight equation of Bundesen’s (1990) theory of visual attention such that the attentional weight of an object becomes a product of a bottom-up (feature contrast) and a top-down (feature relevance) component.
TidsskriftJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)510-537
Antal sider28
StatusUdgivet - 2013

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