Using dynamic features to investigate the temporal qualities of attention

Open Access
Callahan-Flintoft, Chloe
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 29, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Chloe Callahan Flintoft, Thesis Advisor
  • Attention
  • Dynamic features
  • Working memory
Much of what is known about visual attention has been obtained through the use of static stimuli. This masters sought to develop an experimental method that allows researchers to investigate how attention samples information from multiple dynamic features. The core attribute of this method is presenting participants with a stimulus smoothly changing in orientation and color. Participants then report, on a continuous scale, the orientation and color of the stimulus at the time it was cued. This basic framework can be adapted to a variety of paradigms. To refine this technique as well as demonstrate its usefulness, it was applied to two similar but separate research interests of the visual attention community. The first looked to build upon the extensive attentional cueing literature by examining the time course of attention when it is deployed to a rapidly updating stimulus as opposed to a briefly presented, static target. The second application investigated how attention samples information from multiple dynamic features of the same object. For this second application, three statistical models were built to simulate results under theories of simultaneous, sequential, and independent attentional sampling of features. Comparing simulated data with that of actual participants the parameter space for each model was constrained. The ultimate goal of this thesis in choosing two different fields of research to explore was to demonstrate the diverse set of problems this experimental paradigm could potentially aide in as well as discover some important limitations of the method.