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Tracking multiple targets with multifocal attention

Summary: Tracking multiple targets with
multifocal attention
Patrick Cavanagh and George A. Alvarez
Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Attention allows us to monitor objects or regions of
visual space and select information from them for report
or storage. Classical theories of attention assumed a
single focus of selection but many everyday activities,
such as video games, navigating busy intersections, or
watching over children at a swimming pool, require
attention to multiple regions of interest. Laboratory
tracking tasks have indeed demonstrated the ability to
track four or more targets simultaneously. Although the
mechanisms by which attention maintains contact with
several targets are not yet established, recent studies
have identified several characteristics of the tracking
process, including properties defining a `trackable'
target, the maximum number of targets that can be
tracked, and the hemifield independence of the tracking
process. This research also has implications for com-


Source: Alvarez, George A. - Department of Psychology, Harvard University
Cavanagh, Patrick - Department of Psychology, Harvard University


Collections: Biology and Medicine