Visual search, the task of finding a target among distractors, is a common task in our daily lives. Whether we are searching for the remote control among a clutter of objects on table, a face in the crowd at the local bus stop, or a meal listing on the menu at the fast-food restaurant, we rely on the mechanism of visual search and attention each and every day. The ease of search depends primarily on how distinguishable the target of search is from the background. Often times, we depend on attention to facilitate this search for our given target. Attention can help one find an object by, say, focusing on the location of the target. There are two modes of attention in which people typically rely on: parallel processing and serial processing. Parallel processing involves investigating and analyzing a multitude of objects on many different kinds of analysis all at the same time. In contrast, serial processing involves investigating each object one at a time.
What strikes our interest and the question at hand is whether attention moves in a parallel or serial manner when it comes to searching for a target in respect to the number of distractors displayed as well as the type of search (feature and conjunction) concerned. Feature search is usually much easier in that it refers to looking for “an odd man out”, such as a difference in the size, orientation, or direction of motion of the object. Conjunction search is usually more difficult in that it refers to searching for an object in respect to a combination of features, such as searching among different colors and shapes.
In this lab, our focus of attention is essentially how attention works: does attention move in parallel or serial between feature and conjunction searches and what does it tell us about the mechanisms of visual search? This experiment was designed to obtain results to answer this question. Although search times are typically recorded in experiments regarding visual...
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