It is now well established that the time course of perceptual processing influences the first second or so of performance in a wide variety of cognitive tasks. Over the last 20 years, there has been a shift from modeling the speed at which a display is processed, to modeling the speed at which different features of the display are perceived and formalizing how this perceptual information is used in decision making. The first of these models (Lamberts, 1995) was implemented to fit the time course of performance in a speeded perceptual categorization task and assumed a simple stochastic accumulation of feature information. Subsequently, similar approaches have been used to model performance in a range of cognitive tasks including identification, absolute identification, perceptual matching, recognition, visual search, and word processing, again assuming a simple stochastic accumulation of feature information from both the stimulus and representations held in memory. These models are typically fit to data from signal-to-respond experiments whereby the effects of stimulus exposure duration on performance are examined, but response times (RTs) and RT distributions have also been modeled. In this article, we review this approach and explore the insights it has provided about the interplay between perceptual processing, memory retrieval, and decision making in a variety of tasks. In so doing, we highlight how such approaches can continue to usefully contribute to our understanding of cognition.
- Information accumulation
- Visual search