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Search efficiency as a function of target saliency: The transition from inefficient to efficient search and beyond.

Liesefeld, HR; Moran, R; Usher, M; Müller, HJ; Zehetleitner, M; (2016) Search efficiency as a function of target saliency: The transition from inefficient to efficient search and beyond. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance , 42 (6) pp. 821-836. 10.1037/xhp0000156. Green open access

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Abstract

Searching for an object among distracting objects is a common daily task. These searches differ in efficiency. Some are so difficult that each object must be inspected in turn, whereas others are so easy that the target object directly catches the observer’s eye. In 4 experiments, the difficulty of searching for an orientation-defined target was parametrically manipulated between blocks of trials via the target–distractor orientation contrast. We observed a smooth transition from inefficient to efficient search with increasing orientation contrast. When contrast was high, search slopes were flat (indicating pop-out); when contrast was low, slopes were steep (indicating serial search). At the transition from inefficient to efficient search, search slopes were flat for target-present trials and steep for target-absent trials within the same orientation-contrast block—suggesting that participants adapted their behavior on target-absent trials to the most difficult, rather than the average, target-present trials of each block. Furthermore, even when search slopes were flat, indicative of pop-out, search continued to become faster with increasing contrast. These observations provide several new constraints for models of visual search and indicate that differences between search tasks that were traditionally considered qualitative in nature might actually be due to purely quantitative differences in target discriminability. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Type: Article
Title: Search efficiency as a function of target saliency: The transition from inefficient to efficient search and beyond.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/xhp0000156
Publisher version: http://doi.apa.org/doi/10.1037/xhp0000156
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1509088
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