Visual search and selective attention. Mü, H., J. & Krummenacher, J.
Visual search and selective attention [pdf]Paper  abstract   bibtex   
Visual search is a key paradigm in attention research that has proved to be a test bed for competing theories of selective attention. The starting point for most current theories of visual search has been Treisman's ''feature integration theory'' of visual attention (e.g., Treisman & Gelade, 1980). A number of key issues that have been raised in attempts to test this theory are still pertinent questions of research today: (1) The role and (mode of) function of bottom-up and top-down mechanisms in controlling or ''guiding'' visual search; (2) in particular, the role and function of implicit and explicit memory mechanisms; (3) the implementation of these mechanisms in the brain; and (4) the simulation of visual search processes in computational or, respectively, neurocomputational (network) models. This paper provides a review of the experimental work and the *often conflicting * theoretical positions on these thematic issues, and goes on to introduce a set of papers by distinguished experts in fields designed to provide solutions to these issues. A key paradigm in attention research, that has proved to be a test bed for competing theories of selective attention, is visual search. In the standard paradigm, the observer is presented with a display that can contain a target stimulus amongst a variable number of distractor stimuli. The total number of stimuli is referred to as the display size. The target is either present or absent, and the observers' task is to make a target-present vs. target-absent decision as rapidly and accurately as possible. (Alternatively, the search display may be presented for a limited exposure duration, and the dependent variable is the accuracy of target detection.) The time taken for these decisions (the reaction time, RT) can be graphed as a function of the display size (search RT functions). An important characteristic of such functions is its slope, that is, the search rate, measured in terms of time per display item. Based on the search RT functions obtained in a variety of search experiments, a distinction has been proposed between two modes of visual

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