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Spatial cueing and the relation between the accuracy of "where" and "what" decisions in visual search.

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Abstract

To study the processes underlying selective attention in visual search, the relation between the accuracy of "where" (location) and "what" (same/different orientation matching) decisions was analysed under various display conditions. Target-non-target discriminability was varied by contrasting single and multiple element displays; further, attention was directly manipulated by spatial cueing. In Experiment 1, analyses for both single and multiple displays showed that localization accuracy remained above chance when same/different matching failed; the inverse also obtained. It seems that accurate matching is not a prerequisite for target localization, nor is accurate localization a prerequisite for same/different matching. However, localization is a prerequisite for the accurate recognition of target orientation (Experiment 2). In this case, it seems that features critical for localization "call" attention to a particular candidate location. This facilitates further (shape) analysis of the stimulus that is found there. This orienting process is by-passed if attention is cued to the location in advance.

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