September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Is Guided Search 6.0 compatible with Reverse Hierarchy Theory
Author Affiliations
  • Jeremy M Wolfe
    Harvard Medical School and Visual Attention Lab Brigham & Women's Hospital
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 36. doi:
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      Jeremy M Wolfe; Is Guided Search 6.0 compatible with Reverse Hierarchy Theory. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):36. doi:

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

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It has been 30 years since the first version of the Guided Search (GS) model of visual search was published. As new data about search accumulated, GS needed modification. The latest version is GS6. GS argues that visual processing is capacity-limited and that attention is needed to “bind” features together into recognizable objects. The core idea of GS is that the deployment of attention is not random but is “guided” from object to object. For example, in a search for your black shoe, search would be guided toward black items. Earlier versions of GS focused on top-down (user-driven) and bottom-up (salience) guidance by basic features like color. Subsequent research adds guidance by history of search (e.g. priming), value of the target, and, most importantly, scene structure and meaning. Your search for the shoe will be guided by your understanding of the scene, including some sophisticated information about scene structure and meaning that is available “preattentively”. In acknowledging the initial, preattentive availability of something more than simple features, GS6 moves closer to ideas that are central to the Reverse Hierarchy Theory of Hochstein and Ahissar. As is so often true in our field, this is another instance where the answer is not Theory A or Theory B, even when they seem diametrically opposed. The next theory tends to borrow and synthesize good ideas from both predecessors.


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