Visual selection from multielement displays: measuring and modeling effects of exposure duration

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1988 Nov;14(4):591-600. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.14.4.591.


In a partial-report experiment, subjects reported the digits from a circular array of digits and letters terminated by a pattern mask. Individual frequency distributions of the number of correctly reported digits were analyzed as functions of number of digits (2, 4, or 6) and number of letters (0, 2, 4, 6, or 8) at nine exposure durations ranging from 10 to 200 ms. The distributions (hundreds of data points per subject) were accurately predicted by a four-parameter fixed-capacity independent race model that assumes exponentially distributed processing times, limitations in both processing capacity and storage capacity, and time-invariant selectivity. Estimated from the data, processing capacity C was 45 items/s, selectivity alpha (ratio between the amount of processing capacity devoted to a distractor and the amount devoted to a target) was 0.48, short-term storage capacity K was 3.5 items, and the longest ineffective exposure duration t0 was 18 ms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Form Perception*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Perceptual Masking
  • Time Factors