Advances in the application of a computational Theory of Visual Attention (TVA): Moving towards more naturalistic stimuli and game-like tasks

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The theory of visual attention, “TVA”, is an influential and formal theory of attentional selection. It is widely applied in clinical assessment of attention and fundamental attention research. However, most TVA-based research is based on accuracy data from letter report experiments performed in controlled laboratory environments. While such basic approaches to questions regarding attentional selection are undoubtedly useful, recent technological advances have enabled the use of increasingly sophisticated experimental paradigms involving more realistic scenarios. Notably, these studies have in many cases resulted in different estimates of capacity limits than those found in studies using traditional TVA-based assessment. Here we review recent developments in TVA-based assessment of attention that goes beyond the use of letter report experiments and experiments performed in controlled laboratory environments. We show that TVA can be used with other tasks and new stimuli, that TVA-based parameter estimation can be embedded into complex scenarios, such as games that can be used to investigate particular problems regarding visual attention, and how TVA-based simulations of “visual foraging” can elucidate attentional control in more naturalistic tasks. We also discuss how these developments may inform future advances of TVA.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOpen Psychology
Pages (from-to)27-46
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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