Visual Search: How Do We Find What We Are Looking For?

Date Published:

2020 Sep 15


In visual search tasks, observers look for targets among distractors. In the lab, this often takes the form of multiple searches for a simple shape that may or may not be present among other items scattered at random on a computer screen (e.g., Find a red T among other letters that are either black or red.). In the real world, observers may search for multiple classes of target in complex scenes that occur only once (e.g., As I emerge from the subway, can I find lunch, my friend, and a street sign in the scene before me?). This article reviews work on how search is guided intelligently. I ask how serial and parallel processes collaborate in visual search, describe the distinction between search templates in working memory and target templates in long-term memory, and consider how searches are terminated.

Last updated on 09/30/2020