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Visual search and selective attention

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Visual search is a key paradigm in attention research that has proved to be a test bed for competing theories of selective attention. The starting point for most current theories of visual search has been Treisman's “feature integration theory” of visual attention (e.g., Treisman & Gelade, 1980). A number of key issues that have been raised in attempts to test this theory are still pertinent questions of research today: (1) The role and (mode of) function of bottom-up and top-down mechanisms in controlling or “guiding” visual search; (2) in particular, the role and function of implicit and explicit memory mechanisms; (3) the implementation of these mechanisms in the brain; and (4) the simulation of visual search processes in computational or, respectively, neurocomputational (network) models. This paper provides a review of the experimental work and the—often conflicting—theoretical positions on these thematic issues, and goes on to introduce a set of papers by distinguished experts in fields designed to provide solutions to these issues.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich, Germany

Publication date: August 1, 2006


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