A test of Bayesian observer models of processing in the Eriksen flanker task

Corey N. White, Scott Brown, Roger Ratcliff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two Bayesian observer models were recently proposed to account for data from the Eriksen flanker task, in which flanking items interfere with processing of a central target. One model assumes that interference stems from a perceptual bias to process nearby items as if they are compatible, and the other assumes that the interference is due to spatial uncertainty in the visual system (Yu, Dayan, & Cohen, 2009). Both models were shown to produce one aspect of the empirical data, the below-chance dip in accuracy for fast responses to incongruent trials. However, the models had not been fit to the full set of behavioral data from the flanker task, nor had they been contrasted with other models. The present study demonstrates that neither model can account for the behavioral data as well as a comparison spotlight-diffusion model. Both observer models missed key aspects of the data, challenging the validity of their underlying mechanisms. Analysis of a new hybrid model showed that the shortcomings of the observer models stem from their assumptions about visual processing, not the use of a Bayesian decision process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-497
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Volume38
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Keywords

  • Diffusion models
  • Flanker task
  • Optimal Bayesian models
  • Response time distribution
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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