This chapter reviews the results of the Salience Project, a cross-disciplinary research project focused on understanding how humans direct attention to salient stimuli. The first objective of the project was theoretical: that is, to understand behaviourally and electrophysiologically how humans direct attention through time to semantically and emotionally salient visual stimuli. Accordingly, we describe the glance-look model of the attentional blink. Notably, this model incorporates two levels of meaning, both of which are based upon latent semantic analysis, and, in addition, it incorporates an explicit body-state subsystem in which emotional experience manifests. Our second major objective has been to apply the same glance-look model to performance analysis of human–computer interaction. Specifically, we have considered a class of system which we call stimulus-rich reactive interfaces (SRRIs). Such systems are characterized by demanding (typically) visual environments, in which multiple stimuli compete for the user's attention, and a variety of physiological measures are employed to assess the user's cognitive state. In this context, we have particularly focused on electroencephalogram (EEG) feedback of stimulus perception. Moreover, we demonstrate how the glance-look model can be used to assess the performance of a variety of such reactive computer interfaces. Thus, the chapter contributes to the study of attentional support and adaptive interfaces associated with digital environments.
Humans are very good at prioritizing competing processing demands. In particular, perception of a salient environmental event can interrupt ongoing processing, causing attention, and accompanying processing resources, to be redirected to the new event.