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J Vis. 2017 Apr 1;17(4):10. doi: 10.1167/17.4.10.

Combining local and global limitations of visual search.

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Institute of Psychology, University of Tartu,


There are different opinions about the roles of local interactions and central processing capacity in visual search. This study attempts to clarify the problem using a new version of relevant set cueing. A central precue indicates two symmetrical segments (that may contain a target object) within a circular array of objects presented briefly around the fixation point. The number of objects in the relevant segments, and density of objects in the array were varied independently. Three types of search experiments were run: (a) search for a simple visual feature (color, size, and orientation); (b) conjunctions of simple features; and (c) spatial configuration of simple features (rotated Ts). For spatial configuration stimuli, the results were consistent with a fixed global processing capacity and standard crowding zones. For simple features and their conjunctions, the results were different, dependent on the features involved. While color search exhibits virtually no capacity limits or crowding, search for an orientation target was limited by both. Results for conjunctions of features can be partly explained by the results from the respective features. This study shows that visual search is limited by both local interference and global capacity, and the limitations are different for different visual features.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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