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Perceptual training for visual search

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People are better at visual search than the best fully automated methods. Despite this, visual search remains a difficult perceptual task. The goal of this investigation was to experimentally test the ways in which visual search performance could be improved through two categories of training interventions: perceptual training and conceptual training. To determine the effects of each training on a later performance task, the two types of trainings were manipulated using a between-subjects design (conceptual vs. perceptual × training present vs. training absent). Perceptual training led to speed and accuracy improvements in visual search. Issues with the design and administration of the conceptual training limited conclusions on its effectiveness but provided useful lessons for conceptual training design. The results suggest that when the visual search task involves detecting heterogeneous or otherwise unpredictable stimuli, perceptual training can improve visual search performance. Similarly, careful consideration of the performance task and training design is required to evaluate the effectiveness of conceptual training.

Practitioner Summary: Visual search is a difficult, yet critical, task in industries such as baggage screening and radiology. This study investigated the effectiveness of perceptual training for visual search. The results suggest that when visual search involves detecting heterogeneous or otherwise unpredictable stimuli, perceptual training may improve the speed and accuracy of visual search.
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Keywords: conceptual training; perception; perceptual training; signal detection; visual search

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Simulation and Training, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2013

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