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ERIC Number: EJ860920
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Nov
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 57
ISSN: ISSN-0096-3445
Attention as Inference: Selection Is Probabilistic; Responses Are All-or-None Samples
Vul, Edward; Hanus, Deborah; Kanwisher, Nancy
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, v138 n4 p546-560 Nov 2009
Theories of probabilistic cognition postulate that internal representations are made up of multiple simultaneously held hypotheses, each with its own probability of being correct (henceforth, "probability distributions"). However, subjects make discrete responses and report the phenomenal contents of their mind to be all-or-none states rather than graded probabilities. How can these 2 positions be reconciled? Selective attention tasks, such as those used to study crowding, the attentional blink, rapid serial visual presentation, and so forth, were recast as probabilistic inference problems and used to assess how graded, probabilistic representations may produce discrete subjective states. The authors asked subjects to make multiple guesses per trial and used 2nd-order statistics to show that (a) visual selective attention operates in a graded fashion in time and space, selecting multiple targets to varying degrees on any given trial; and (b) responses are generated by a process of sampling from the probabilistic states that result from graded selection. The authors concluded that although people represent probability distributions, their discrete responses and conscious states are products of a process that samples from these probabilistic representations. (Contains 15 figures and 2 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A