August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Visual Tasks Lead to Unique Sequences of Cyclic Attentional Signals
Author Affiliations
  • John Tsotsos
    Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, York University
  • Thilo Womelsdorf
    Dept. of Biology, York University
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 616. doi:
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      John Tsotsos, Thilo Womelsdorf; Visual Tasks Lead to Unique Sequences of Cyclic Attentional Signals. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):616. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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The enormous breadth of human visual tasks highlights the question of how the visual cortex achieves this incredible generality. Recently, models of vision and visual attention (e.g., Tsotsos 2011, Beuth & Hamker 2015) have incorporated specific solutions toward such generality resulting in the insight that different visual tasks require unique patterns of neural activations to occur with specific timings in order to provide unified response. For example, sub-tasks such as task-set specific priming of visual features, disengaging from a previous attentional focus, selection of a next focus, matching focus to task, eye movements, storing extracted information into working memory, recognition of task completion (or failure), and resetting for the next task need to be set up, initiated, monitored and terminated with precise timing and coordination. Each computation takes time, each transfer of information between representations takes time, network transmission speeds and neural distance travelled vary, motor actions take time and so on. It is a major question to determine how segregated computational operations are temporally coordinated. Appeals to attentional executive processes and (de-)centralized control operations have appeared in the literature, but the desired generality has remained elusive in concept as well as possible neurobiological realization. Here, we outline in the context of the Selective Tuning model (Tsotsos et al. 1995; Tsotsos 2011), how attentional control signals and their timing depend on the specific task being performed. We outline how tasks define sequences of computations with unique content and duration. We predict that these computational sequences give rise to periodic, oscillatory activity that is measured across visual and fronto-parietal networks implementing attentional control of vision. We show how the computational constraints underlying visual tasks suggest a temporally precise unfolding of neural activation that is likely evident in brief periods of oscillatory activity measured across visual and attention networks of the brain.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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