The Theory of Visual Attention without the race: a new model of visual selection


The Theory of Visual Attention (TVA; Bundesen, 1990) is a comprehensive quantitative account of visual attention, which accounts for many empirical findings and has been extensively applied to clinical studies of attention. According to TVA, perceptual processing of objects occurs in parallel constrained by a limited processing capacity or rate, which is distributed among target and distractor objects with distractor objects receiving a smaller proportion of resources due to attentional filtering. Encoding into a limited visual short-term memory is implemented as a race model. Given its major influence it is surprising that few studies have compared TVA directly to alternative models. Here we insert an algebraically simpler model of encoding into TVA as an alternative to the race model and show that this provides a better fit to Shibuya and Bundesen’s (1988) whole and partial report data, which have been a keystone test bed for TVA.

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