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Influence of inter-item symmetry in visual search

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

Does visual search involve a serial inspection of individual items (Feature Integration Theory) or are items grouped and segregated prior to their consideration as a possible target (Attentional Engagement Theory)? For search items defined by motion and shape there is strong support for prior grouping (Kingstone and Bischof, 1999). The present study tested for grouping based on inter-item shape symmetry. Results showed that target–distractor symmetry strongly influenced search whereas distractor–distractor symmetry influenced search more weakly. This indicates that static shapes are evaluated for similarity to one another prior to their explicit identification as 'target' or 'distractor'. Possible reasons for the unequal contributions of target–distractor and distractor– distractor relations are discussed.


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