Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Review
, 16 (8), 437-43

Top-down Versus Bottom-Up Attentional Control: A Failed Theoretical Dichotomy

Affiliations
Review

Top-down Versus Bottom-Up Attentional Control: A Failed Theoretical Dichotomy

Edward Awh et al. Trends Cogn Sci.

Abstract

Prominent models of attentional control assert a dichotomy between top-down and bottom-up control, with the former determined by current selection goals and the latter determined by physical salience. This theoretical dichotomy, however, fails to explain a growing number of cases in which neither current goals nor physical salience can account for strong selection biases. For example, equally salient stimuli associated with reward can capture attention, even when this contradicts current selection goals. Thus, although 'top-down' sources of bias are sometimes defined as those that are not due to physical salience, this conception conflates distinct--and sometimes contradictory--sources of selection bias. We describe an alternative framework, in which past selection history is integrated with current goals and physical salience to shape an integrated priority map.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
General paradigm and results from [56]. (a) The additional singleton paradigm of [82]. The target was a shape singleton (the circle) and a salient color singleton served as a distractor. The target and distractor colors switched (‘Color Swap’) or stayed the same (‘No Color Swap’) on subsequent trials. Following a correct discrimination of the target’s orientation, participants either received 1 or 10 points (worth €0.2 or €2, respectively). (b) Reaction times for the target discrimination: when there was no color swap, participants were fast following a high reward; when there was a color swap, participants were slow indicating that the previously rewarded color now strongly captured attention even though it indicated a distractor. Adapted from [56].
Figure 2
Figure 2
A schematic representation of a priority map that integrates three sources of selection bias: the observer’s current selection goals, selection history, and the physical salience of the items competing for attention. Although these three effects could in principle operate in a coordinated fashion, various studies have demonstrated that they can also work in direct opposition to one another. This suggests that they are distinct sources of selection bias.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 233 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

Publication types

MeSH terms

Feedback