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Load and Attentional Bayes
Peter Dayan

Thu Dec 11 10:40 AM -- 11:00 AM (PST) @ None

Selective attention is a most intensively studied psychological phenomenon, rife with theoretical suggestions and schisms. A critical idea is that of limited capacity, the allocation of which has produced half a century's worth of conflict about such phenomena as early and late selection. An influential resolution of this debate is based on the notion of perceptual load (Lavie, 2005, TICS, 9: 75), which suggests that low-load, easy tasks, because they underuse the total capacity of attention, mandatorily lead to the processing of stimuli that are irrelevant to the current attentional set; whereas high-load, difficult tasks grab all resources for themselves, leaving distractors high and dry. We argue that this theory presents a challenge to Bayesian theories of attention, and suggest an alternative, statistical, account of key supporting data.

Author Information

Peter Dayan (Gatsby Unit, UCL)

I am Director of the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College London. I studied mathematics at the University of Cambridge and then did a PhD at the University of Edinburgh, specialising in associative memory and reinforcement learning. I did postdocs with Terry Sejnowski at the Salk Institute and Geoff Hinton at the University of Toronto, then became an Assistant Professor in Brain and Cognitive Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before moving to UCL.

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