A computational theory of visual selective attention is presented. The theory developed out of a choice and a race model for visual selection from multi-element displays. The choice model (Bundesen, Pedersen, & Larsen, 1984) provides a rule for computation of selection probabilities, which accounts far effects of the selection criterion and the numbers of targets and distracters in the stimulus. The race model (Shibuya & Bundesen, 1988) provides a process interpretation of the choice model and accounts for effects of the exposure duration of the stimulus. The computational theory (TVA; Bundesen, 1990) was constructed by integrating the race model with a biased-choice model for single-stimulus recognition (Luce, 1963). TVA describes two mechanisms (filtering and pigeonholing) by which selection is assumed to be carried out, and it organizes a large body of empirical data on human performance in visual recognition and attention tasks. A recent theoretical development (CTVA; Logan, 1996; Logan & Bundesen, 1996) combines TVA with a theory of perceptual grouping by proximity. CTVA explains effects of spatial separation between items in multi-element displays. The neural localization of the operations described in TVA is considered in the final section.
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