August 2009
Volume 9, Issue 8
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2009
Training determines the target representation for search
Author Affiliations
  • Mary Bravo
    Psychology, Rutgers University, Camden
  • Hany Farid
    Computer Science, Dartmouth College
Journal of Vision August 2009, Vol.9, 1198. doi:
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      Mary Bravo, Hany Farid; Training determines the target representation for search. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):1198.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: Visual search is facilitated when observers are pre-cued with the target image. This facilitation arises in part because the pre-cue activates a stored representation of the target. We examined whether training designed to alter the nature of this representation can influence the specificity of the cueing effect.

Methods: The experiment involved a training session and, 1–2 days later, a testing session. For both sessions, the stimuli were photo-composites of coral reef scenes and the targets were images of tropical fish. The observer's task was to judge whether a fish was present in each reef scene. During training, observers practiced searching for 3 exemplars of 4 fish species. Half the observers searched for the 12 fish in 12 separate blocks (blocked-by-fish group), the other half searched for the three fish belonging to each species in separate blocks (blocked-by-species group). During testing, the observers were shown a brief pre-cue one second before the search stimulus. The pre-cues were either identical to the target, the same species as the target, or, as a control, the word “fish”.

Prediction: During training, we expected that the blocked-by-fish group would develop a specific representation for each of the 12 fish images, while the blocked-by-species group would develop a more general representation of the 4 fish species. We expected this difference to show up during testing as a difference in the specificity of the cueing effect.

Results: For the blocked-by-fish group, pre-cues facilitated search for identical targets but not same-species targets. For the blocked-by-species group, pre-cues facilitated search for identical targets as well as same-species targets.

Conclusion: The pattern of cueing effects suggests that observers trained on the same visual search stimuli can form different representations of the target.

Bravo, M. Farid, H. (2009). Training determines the target representation for search [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 9(8):1198, 1198a,, doi:10.1167/9.8.1198. [CrossRef]

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