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On the manifestations of memory in visual search

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image of Spatial Vision
For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

Evidence is presented supporting the thesis that performance in visual search tasks is affected by the contribution of memory processes. Three levels of analysis, corresponding to the various time scales present in a typical search experiment, are discussed. Perceptual learning involves the task and stimulus specific improvement seen across blocks of training. Trial-to-trial priming has an influence which extends over 5-8 trials and lasts on the order of 30 s. Within-trial tagging prevents the re-inspection of already attended (or fixated) items. Also at the within-trial level of analysis, parallel accumulation of evidence for target presence/absence or target location inherently involves memory mechanisms. Organizing the various phenomena in this way makes it apparent that the various mechanisms may interact in a causal way. Within-trial tagging may contribute to priming which may contribute to perceptual learning. Recent proposals that visual search is memoryless (amnesic) are discussed and dismissed.

Affiliations: 1: Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Centre of Geriatric Care, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; 2: Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada


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