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Gavin Ng, Simona Buetti, Alejandro Lleras; Display repetitions do not improve search efficiency in parallel search tasks.. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):524. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.524.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recently, Buetti, Cronin, Madison, Wang, and Lleras (2016) found that reaction times increase logarithmically as a function of set size in fixed-target efficient search tasks. The authors proposed that these logarithmic functions arise because stage-one is a parallel, unlimited capacity, and exhaustive process. In stage-one, evidence is accumulated at each location in the display to determine whether the location is likely to contain the target or not. Once a location reaches threshold, it can be confidently rejected as unlikely to contain the target. These locations are then excluded from further processing. Critically, during this early stage, all the locations receive some degree of processing simultaneously, which means that this stage provides an opportunity for a "map" of the display configuration to be encoded into memory. Here, we examined whether display configurations viewed under these efficient search conditions can produce the search benefit known as Contextual Cueing. In this phenomenon, participants are presented with up to 12 repeated display configurations that perfectly predict the target location (not its identity). Participants come to implicitly learn the association between the display configuration and the target location, allowing them to find targets faster in repeated compared to novel display configurations. Typically, Contextual Cueing experiments involve a serial, self-terminating (stage-two) search. Here, we varied set size (1, 4, 10, 20, and 32) in an efficient search task. RTs showed the same logarithmic increase as a function of set size in both new and repeated displays. That is, people processed both display types with equal efficiency. Further, we found no evidence of Contextual Cueing. Interestingly, almost all participants noticed that displays were repeated during the experiment. Thus, we found a dissociation between efficient search (no Contextual Cueing, but awareness of display repetitions) and inefficient search (Contextual Cueing present, but no awareness of display repetitions).
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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