Executive control of visual attention in dual-task situations

Psychol Rev. 2001 Apr;108(2):393-434. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.108.2.393.


A theory of executive control is presented that proposes that executive processes control subordinate processes by manipulating their parameters, reconfiguring them to respond in accord with the current task set. It adopts C. Bundesen's (1990) theory of visual attention (TVA) and R. M. Nosofsky and T. J. Palmeri's (1997) exemplar-based random walk (EBRW) as the theory of subordinate processes. It assumes that a task set is a set of TVA and EBRW parameters sufficient to perform a task and that set switching involves changing those parameters. The theory solves 2 computational problems that emerge in dual-task situations: the binding problem and the serial order problem. It can perform dual tasks in series or in parallel but prefers the serial strategy because it is faster and it solves the binding problem naturally. The theory accounts for concurrence cost, set-switching cost, crosstalk between tasks, and the modulation of crosstalk by task set.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Humans
  • Locomotion
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Serial Learning
  • Visual Perception*