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Anders Petersen, Søren Kyllingsbæk, Claus Bundesen; Modelling of attentional dwell time. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):200. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/9.8.200.
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Studies of the time course of visual attention have identified a temporary functional blindness to the second of two spatially separated targets: attending to one visual stimulus may lead to impairments in identifying a second stimulus presented between 200 to 500 ms after the first. This phenomenon is known as attentional dwell time (e.g. Duncan, Ward, Shapiro, 1994). All Previous studies of the attentional dwell time have looked at data averaged across subjects. In contrast, we have succeeded in running subjects for 3120 trials which has given us reliable data for modelling data from individual subjects.
Our new model is based on the Theory of Visual Attention (TVA; Bundesen, 1990). TVA has previously been successful in explaining results from experiments where stimuli are presented simultaneously in the spatial domain (e.g. whole report and partial report) but has not yet been extended into the temporal domain. In the neural interpretation of TVA (NTVA; Bundesen, Habekost and Kyllingsbæk, 2005), processing resources are implemented as allocation of cortical cells to objects in the visual field. A feedback mechanism is then used to keep encoded objects in VSTM alive. The proposed model of attentional dwell time extends these mechanisms by proposing that the processing resources (cells) already engaged in a feedback loop (i.e. allocated to an object) are locked in VSTM and therefore cannot be allocated to other objects in the visual field before the encoded object has been released. This confinement of attentional resources leads to the impairment in identifying the second target.
With the model, we are able to produce close fits to data from the traditional two target dwell time paradigm. A dwell-time experiment with three targets has also been carried out for individual subjects and the model has been extended to fit these data.
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