flankr: An R package implementing computational models of attentional selectivity


The Eriksen flanker task (Eriksen and Eriksen, Perception & Psychophysics, 16, 143–149, 1974) is a classic test in cognitive psychology of visual selective attention. Two recent computational models have formalised the dynamics of the apparent increasing attentional selectivity during stimulus processing, but with very different theoretical underpinnings: The shrinking spotlight (SSP) model (White et al., Cognitive Psychology, 210–238, 2011) assumes attentional selectivity improves in a gradual, continuous manner; the dual stage two phase (DSTP) model (Hübner et al., Psychological Review, 759–784, 2010) assumes attentional selectivity changes from a low- to a high-mode of selectivity at a discrete time-point. This paper presents an R package—flankr—that instantiates both computational models. flankr allows the user to simulate data from both models, and to fit each model to human data. flankr provides statistics of the goodness-of-fit to human data, allowing users to engage in competitive model comparison of the DSTP and the SSP models on their own data. It is hoped that the utility of flankr lies in allowing more researchers to engage in the important issue of the dynamics of attentional selectivity.

Behavior Research Methods, 48, 528–541