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Does the inspector have a memory?

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Serial and parallel search strategies are distinguished and illustrated. Investigators are urged to explore when and how these strategies are used and combined in normal search rather than to focus on which one is “right”. Although serial search would be more efficient if there were a system for discouraging wasteful reinspections, we should not be embarrassed by the possibility that serial search may be amnesic. A critical review and meta-analysis of studies exploring whether visual search is amnesic leads to the conclusion that it probably rarely is. In contrast, there is ample evidence for the existence of inhibitory tags (inhibition of return) that might discourage reinspections during search. Three strategies for linking these tags to increased search efficiency are described.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Publication date: 2006-08-01

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