Modeling the Effects of Perceptual Load: Saliency, Competitive Interactions, and Top-Down Biases.
Neokleous K., Shimi A., Avraamides MN.
A computational model of visual selective attention has been implemented to account for experimental findings on the Perceptual Load Theory (PLT) of attention. The model was designed based on existing neurophysiological findings on attentional processes with the objective to offer an explicit and biologically plausible formulation of PLT. Simulation results verified that the proposed model is capable of capturing the basic pattern of results that support the PLT as well as findings that are considered contradictory to the theory. Importantly, the model is able to reproduce the behavioral results from a dilution experiment, providing thus a way to reconcile PLT with the competing Dilution account. Overall, the model presents a novel account for explaining PLT effects on the basis of the low-level competitive interactions among neurons that represent visual input and the top-down signals that modulate neural activity. The implications of the model concerning the debate on the locus of selective attention as well as the origins of distractor interference in visual displays of varying load are discussed.