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      Editorial: Theories of visual attention—linking cognition, neuropsychology, and neurophysiology

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      Frontiers in Psychology

      Frontiers Media S.A.

      neural, visual, attention, computational, model

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          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.

          Abstract

          The Neural Theory of Visual Attention of Bundesen et al. (2005) was proposed as a neural interpretation of Bundesen's (1990) theory of visual attention (TVA). In NTVA, visual attention operates via two mechanisms: by dynamic remapping of receptive fields of cortical cells such that more cells are devoted to behaviorally important objects than to less important ones (filtering) and by multiplicative scaling of the level of activation in cells coding for particular features (pigeonholing). NTVA accounts for a wide range of known attentional effects in human performance and a wide range of effects observed in firing rates of single cells in the primate visual system and thus provides a mathematical framework to unify the two fields of research. In this Research Topic of Frontiers in Psychology, a host of new empirical findings from studies employing a theoretical and methodological framework based on NTVA are presented and discussed. The presented articles relate to the cognitive, neuropsychological, and neurocomputational levels of contemporary attention research and employ a variety of methods including behavioral testing, neuroimaging, and computational modeling. In the first article of the Research Topic, Habekost (2015) offers a review of clinical TVA-based studies, in which the theoretical framework of TVA and NTVA is presented and discussed in relation to its clinical use. The review is followed by an article by Bogon et al. (2014), who present a TVA-based assessment of visual attention functions in developmental dyslexia. Following this, two papers on TVA-based measures of age-related effects and white matter brain microstructures are presented by Espeseth et al. (2014) and Wilms and Nielsen (2014). The fifth paper, by Nielsen and Wilms (2015), is also related to aging, but uses confirmatory factor analyses in Structural Equation Modeling in combination with TVA-based modeling. Next Bullock and Giesbrecht (2014) explore how acute exercise and aerobic fitness may influence selective attention during visual search. This paper is followed by a TVA-based study by Poth et al. (2014) combining a prospective memory task with traditional whole and partial report paradigms, thus studying effects of monitoring for visual events on distinct components of attention. Then Kyllingsbæk et al. (2014) present a study on automatic attraction of visual attention to supraletter features. In the final paper, Tsotsos and Kruijne (2014) propose an extension of their Selective Tuning model of attention, in which executive control over visual attention is implemented by Cognitive Programs. In the future, NTVA might also be extended with Cognitive Programs. This collection of articles reflects the strong, continued interest in using a TVA-based framework for investigating and understanding visual attention in both healthy participants and patient groups, and the articles also provide important examples of how this may be done. If the reader should wish to delve into the latest theoretical developments of TVA and NTVA complementing the articles presented here, we further recommend the recent papers by Bundesen et al. (2014, 2015). Conflict of interest statement The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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          Most cited references 13

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          A theory of visual attention.

          A unified theory of visual recognition and attentional selection is developed by integrating the biased-choice model for single-stimulus recognition (Luce, 1963; Shepard, 1957) with a choice model for selection from multielement displays (Bundesen, Pedersen, & Larsen, 1984) in a race model framework. Mathematically, the theory is tractable, and it specifies the computations necessary for selection. The theory is applied to extant findings from a broad range of experimental paradigms. The findings include effects of object integrality in selective report, number and spatial position of targets in divided-attention paradigms, selection criterion and number of distracters in focused-attention paradigms, delay of selection cue in partial report, and consistent practice in search. On the whole, the quantitative fits are encouraging.
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            A neural theory of visual attention: bridging cognition and neurophysiology.

            A neural theory of visual attention (NTVA) is presented. NTVA is a neural interpretation of C. Bundesen's (1990) theory of visual attention (TVA). In NTVA, visual processing capacity is distributed across stimuli by dynamic remapping of receptive fields of cortical cells such that more processing resources (cells) are devoted to behaviorally important objects than to less important ones. By use of the same basic equations used in TVA, NTVA accounts for a wide range of known attentional effects in human performance (reaction times and error rates) and a wide range of effects observed in firing rates of single cells in the primate visual system. NTVA provides a mathematical framework to unify the 2 fields of research--formulas bridging cognition and neurophysiology.
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              Acute exercise and aerobic fitness influence selective attention during visual search

              Successful goal directed behavior relies on a human attention system that is flexible and able to adapt to different conditions of physiological stress. However, the effects of physical activity on multiple aspects of selective attention and whether these effects are mediated by aerobic capacity, remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of a prolonged bout of physical activity on visual search performance and perceptual distraction. Two groups of participants completed a hybrid visual search flanker/response competition task in an initial baseline session and then at 17-min intervals over a 2 h 16 min test period. Participants assigned to the exercise group engaged in steady-state aerobic exercise between completing blocks of the visual task, whereas participants assigned to the control group rested in between blocks. The key result was a correlation between individual differences in aerobic capacity and visual search performance, such that those individuals that were more fit performed the search task more quickly. Critically, this relationship only emerged in the exercise group after the physical activity had begun. The relationship was not present in either group at baseline and never emerged in the control group during the test period, suggesting that under these task demands, aerobic capacity may be an important determinant of visual search performance under physical stress. The results enhance current understanding about the relationship between exercise and cognition, and also inform current models of selective attention.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                12 June 2015
                2015
                : 6
                Affiliations
                Department of Psychology, Center for Visual Cognition, University of Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark
                Author notes

                Edited and reviewed by: Bernhard Hommel, Leiden University, Netherlands

                *Correspondence: Søren Kyllingsbæk, sk@ 123456psy.ku.dk

                This article was submitted to Cognition, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00767
                4464144
                Copyright © 2015 Kyllingsbæk, Vangkilde and Bundesen.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 13, Pages: 2, Words: 968
                Categories
                Psychology
                Editorial

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry

                model, computational, attention, visual, neural

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