Approaches to Visual Search

Jeremy M. Wolfe

in The Oxford Handbook of Attention

Published in print January 2014 | ISBN: 9780199675111
Published online April 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191753015 | DOI:
Approaches to Visual Search

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In her original Feature Integration Theory, Anne Treisman proposed that we process a limited set of basic preattentive, visual features in parallel across the visual field. Binding those features together into coherent, recognizable objects requires selective attention of item after item. In Treisman’s original conception, searches were divided into parallel feature searches and other serial self-terminating searches. Wolfe’s Guided Search model added the idea that the deployment of attention could be guided by preattentive information. In this view, the efficiency of search is related to the effectiveness of guidance on a continuum from perfect guidance, in the case of simple feature pop-out, to no guidance when no basic features distinguish target from distractors. This chapter reviews the evidence for different basic, preattentive features and describes the current understanding of the rules of guidance, the mechanics of visual search, and the relationship of these processes to visual awareness.

Keywords: visual search; preattentive; feature integration; guided search; selective attention; object recognition; parallel processing; serial selection; pop-out; binding

Article.  20400 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Neuroscience

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