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A. Kristjansson, D. Wang, K. Nakayama; The role of priming in conjunction search. Journal of Vision 2001;1(3):114. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/1.3.114.
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To assess the role played by priming in conjunctive visual search, we systematically varied the consistency of the target identity between different conditions of a visual search experiment. We found large differences in reaction times depending on whether the target was the same as on the preceding few trials or not. When the target to be found was the same for a few trials in a row, search performance became similar to what it was when the target identity was the same on all trials, suggesting that priming plays a surprisingly large role in determining reaction times in visual search, a role often attributed to top-down guidance. Furthermore, a similar pattern of results was found for the target absent trials, suggesting that priming may be based on the whole search array rather than just the target. We conclude that the role of priming in visual search is underestimated in current theories of visual search and that differences in search rates often attributed to top-down guidance may instead reflect the benefits of priming.
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