Effects of top-down guidance and singleton priming on visual search

Dominique Lamy*, Yoav Bar-Anan, Howard E. Egeth, Tomer Carmel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Recent literature suggests that observers can use advance knowledge of the target feature to guide their search but fail to do so whenever the target is reliably a singleton Instead, they engage in singleton-detection mode - that is, they search for the most salient object. In the present study, we aimed to test the notion of a default salience-based search mode. Using several measures, we compared search for a known target when it is always a singleton (fixed-singleton search) relative to when it is incidentally a singleton (multiple-target search). We examined the relative contributions of strategic factors (knowledge that the target is a singleton) and intertrial repetition effects (singleton priming, or the advantage of responding to a singleton target if the target on the previous trial had also been a singleton). In two experiments, singleton priming eliminated all the differences in performance between fixed-singleton and multiple-target search, suggesting that search for a known singleton may be feature based rather than salience based.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-293
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006


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