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Zhi Li, Keyun Xin, Wei Li, Yanzhe Li; Reconceptualizing perceptual load as a rate problem: The role of time in the allocation of selective attention. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):480. doi: 10.1167/18.10.480.
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The load theory of selective attention proposed that it is the perceptual load of a task that determines the allocation of selective attention. Task-irrelevant information will be identified when perceptual load is low, but not when it is high. However, load theory has not provided clear definition of what perceptual load is. In practice, load studies often associated perceptual load of a task to the quantity of information contained in that task. That is, the information load is often considered as the perceptual load. In the present study, we suggested that, rather than conceiving of perceptual load as a quantity of information, we should consider it as a quantity of information per unit of time. That is, it is the relationship between the information load of a task and the time available for processing the information that determines the allocation of selective attention. Two experiments were conducted to support this idea. Experiment 1 showed, using a classic load study paradigm, that when information load was held constant, the extent of the distractor interference varied with the stimulus exposure duration. Experiment 2 showed, using a new paradigm, that when the information load changed, the extent of distractor interference can still be held constant by adjusting the stimulus exposure duration. These findings supported and extended the load theory, allowing it to explain findings that were previously considered as counter evidence of load theory.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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