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George A. Alvarez, Talia Konkle, Aude Oliva; Searching in dynamic displays: Effects of configural predictability and spatiotemporal continuity. Journal of Vision 2007;7(14):12. doi: 10.1167/7.14.12.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A visual search task was used to probe how well attention can operate over a dynamically changing visual display. Participants searched for a target item among an array of distractor items while the items either shifted location several times per second or remained stationary. Not surprisingly, Experiment 1 showed that shifting display items slowed search. However, search was faster if the shift preserved the global, configural structure of the display. The results of Experiment 2 suggest that the benefit of maintaining configural structure comes from improved spatial predictability: Knowing where the searchable items will be at any given moment enables faster search. Finally, Experiment 3 shows that, given spatiotemporal continuity, attention can operate just as efficiently over a dynamically changing display as it can over a stationary display. In the real world, objects often move, but they do so in a predictable way. The current findings suggest that the mechanisms underlying search can capitalize on configural predictability and spatiotemporal continuity to enable efficient search in such dynamic situations.
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