Object-based models of visual attention purport to explain why it is easier to process information within one object or perceptual group than across two or more groups. Perceptual groups are generally defined in terms of Gestalt grouping principles. These models of attention have been used to explain the phenomenon of cognitive tunneling within Heads-Up Displays (HUDs), on the assumption that the symbology of a Heads-Up Display (HUD) in a cockpit forms a single perceptual group and the outside scene forms another. Despite extensive empirical support, object-based models have various shortcomings. In particular, the use of Gestalt grouping principles to define the notion of objects does not allow for an operational measure of what an object is to the visual system. Also, the Gestalt principles do not allow for a systematic distinction between spatial and object-based mechanisms of attention. Finally, it is generally assumed that Gestalt grouping occurs preattentively, whereas there is evidence that perceptual grouping requires attentional resources. The proposed line of research aims to develop an account of object-based attention that does not rely on these premises. Rather, it is assumed that the cost of dividing attention between objects reflects the cost of perceptual organization itself. A qualitative model based on this assumption, called the “Inferential Attentional Allocation Model,” is given. A number of experiments are proposed to test key aspects of the model, in particular the effects of motion and top-down knowledge on perceptual organization and attention. It is expected that the results will facilitate the development of a quantitative model of object-based attention, based on a computational characterization of perceptual organization as inference to the best explanation. Finally, the implications of this research for HUDs with dynamic elements are discussed.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Object based models, visual attention, perception, Heads-Up-Display, cognition, Gestalt
Publisher Department of Cognitive Science
Series Cognitive Science Technical Report Series
Jarmasz, Jerzy. (2001). Towards the Integration of Perceptual Organization and Visual Attention: The Inferential Attentional Allocation Model. Technical Report 2001-08. Cognitive Science Technical Report Series. Department of Cognitive Science.