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Margit Höfler, Iain D. Gilchrist, Christof Körner; Guidance toward and away from distractors in repeated visual search. Journal of Vision 2015;15(5):12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.5.12.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
When searching for two targets consecutively in the same display, participants use memory of recently fixated distractors that become the target in the second search to find that target more quickly. Here we ask whether participants are also using memory for fixated distractors that do not become the target. In Experiment 1 we show that search is faster overall in the second search regardless of whether or not the second search target was fixated in the first search. We replicate this effect in Experiment 2 for different display sizes and further show that the effect is a result of the prioritization of locations that are more likely to contain the target. This suggests that representations of the fixated distractor items are retained across the two searches and that these representations can be used flexibly to optimize search performance. Furthermore, this suggests that the short-term memory processes that support search across consecutive searches not only facilitate guidance toward the target but also allow distractors to be excluded from the search process.
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