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Jan Tünnermann, Anna Schubö; Not so simple at all? Reluctance to switch between single-feature search targets in visual foraging. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):1186. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.1186.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Visual foraging paradigms, in which observers search and collect multiple elements from different target classes, have provided insight into attention guidance and the maintenance of search templates. One particularly striking effect is the reluctance of human participants and other biological organisms to switch between different but equally valuable target types. Earlier research showed that instead of frequent switching, foragers collect one particular type in longer runs, especially when targets were defined by conjunctions of multiple features. Here, we show that the switching frequency is also modulated by relationships within a single feature dimension. In two experiments, we found that switching between differently colored but otherwise similar targets depended on the color space distance between the two targets and the distractors' color space position relative to the targets. The strongest reduction of target switching---almost matching that of conjunction targets---occurred when the distractor colors were located between two relatively close target colors. Our findings challenge current views that run-like foraging is only related to difficulties in activating more than one complex (e. g. conjunction) template at the same time. Depending on the relationships and distances between target and distractor features within a single dimension, template activation switches or updating of attentional control settings seem to be impaired as well, benefiting strategies that stay with one target type for longer runs.
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