Visual Search as a Function of Type of Prior Experience with Target and Distractor

R. E. Lubow*, Oren Kaplan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a visual search task, participants identified the presence of a unique shape against a background of homogeneous distractors. Types of prior experience with the target, the distractor, or both were examined. In 2 experiments, a preexposure (PE) phase was followed by a test phase. The test display consisted of a target that was either target or distractor in PE or novel. Distractors were either targets or distractors in PE or novel. Reaction time was fastest for novel targets with familiar distractors, irrespective of the source of familiarity, and slowest for novel targets with novel distractors. Results are discussed in terms of attentional explanations of latent inhibition (LI) and perceptual learning and of visual search phenomena, such as novel popout. LI, previously attributed only to a deficit in the stimulus preexposed group, may also be due to enhanced performance in the nonpreexposed group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-24
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1997


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