Effects of search mode and intertrial priming on singleton search

Dominique Lamy*, Tomer Carmel, Howard E. Egeth, Andrew B. Leber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


There is no consensus as to what information guides search for a singleton target Does the most salient display element capture attention, regardless of the observer's attentional set? Do observers adopt a default salience-based search mode? Does knowledge of the target's defining featural property (when available) affect search? Finally, can intertrial contingencies account for the disparate results in the literature? We investigated search for a shape singleton when (1) the target and nontarget shapes switched unpredictably from trial to trial, (2) the target feature remained fixed, and (3) the target was a singleton on only one third of the trials. We examined overall reaction times, search slopes, errors, and the magnitude of the slowing caused by a cross-dimensional singleton distractor. Our results argue against the idea that search is guided solely by stimulus-driven factors or that subjects adopt a singleton detection mode that is blind to feature information. They show also that intertrial contingencies, although potent, cannot account for the variety of results in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-932
Number of pages14
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2006


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