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Alejandro Lleras, James T. Enns; Rapid resumption of visual search is more than lucky spatial orienting. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):952. doi: 10.1167/5.8.952.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Rapid Resumption (RR) is the observation that participants are faster to resume a visual search after it has been momentarily interrupted than they are to start a new search. In a RR study, participants are presented with brief search displays (100ms exposure) that alternate with blank displays (900ms duration) until participants successfully find the target. Typically, only 5% of responses are recorded within the first 500ms after viewing the search display for the first time, whereas more than 40% of responses are recorded during equivalent intervals following subsequent looks at the display. Here we examine the role of spatial attention in this phenomenon. Perhaps RR occurs when participants orient spatial attention to the target location during a blank display, either by chance or because they acquired partial target information on the preceding look. As a result, when the search display reappears, participants are already oriented toward the correct location and can thus identify and report the target very quickly. We tested this hypothesis in two ways. First, each item location was indicated by four surrounding dots that were presented 400ms before or simultaneously with the search display. If RR benefits from accurate spatial orienting, it should be stronger when the placeholders indicated the item locations in advance. Yet, RR was unaffected by placeholder preview. Second, we provided a 100% valid pre-cue for the target location (a single set of four dots) at different points during the trial. Four conditions were examined: no cue, cue before first, cue before second and cue before third display. Participants used the cue successfully to find the target, but response times following a valid cue were still slower than those observed for RR with no cue. These results indicate that there is more to RR than efficient spatial orienting of attention, namely, RR reflects the confirmation of a perceptual hypothesis that has been formed during a previous look at the display.
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