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Visual Search in Real-World and Applied Contexts

Visual search tasks are an everyday part of the human experience - ranging from hunting for a specific recipe ingredient in the pantry to monitoring for road hazards and informational signs while driving. Due to its ubiquity in everyday life, visual search has been extensively studied in the laboratory for decades even if laboratory tasks are unable to capture the full complexity of real-world visual search tasks. In recent years, there has been a growing body of research seeking to narrow the gaps in our understanding of visual search behavior between the laboratory and the real world. The purpose of this special issue in Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications (CRPI) is to bring together this important research. 

Edited By:

  • Editor-in-Chief Jeremy M. Wolfe
  • Guest Editor Trafton Drew
  • Assistant Guest Editor Lauren H. Williams

This collection of articles has not been sponsored and articles have undergone the journal’s standard peer-review process. The Guest Editors declare no competing interests.

  1. When searching for a known target, mental representations of target features, or templates, guide attention towards matching objects and facilitate recognition. When only distractor features are known, distrac...

    Authors: Alex Muhl-Richardson, Maximilian G. Parker, Sergio A. Recio, Maria Tortosa-Molina, Jennifer L. Daffron and Greg J. Davis

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:33

    Content type: Original article

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  2. A major problem in human cognition is to understand how newly acquired information and long-standing beliefs about the environment combine to make decisions and plan behaviors. Over-dependence on long-standing...

    Authors: Gwendolyn L. Rehrig, Michelle Cheng, Brian C. McMahan and Rahul Shome

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:32

    Content type: Original article

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  3. Camouflage-breaking is a special case of visual search where an object of interest, or target, can be hard to distinguish from the background even when in plain view. We have previously shown that naive, non-p...

    Authors: Fallon Branch, Allison JoAnna Lewis, Isabella Noel Santana and Jay Hegdé

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:27

    Content type: Brief report

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  4. Professional screeners frequently verify photograph IDs in such industries as professional security, bar tending, and sales of age-restricted materials. Moreover, security screening is a vital tool for law enf...

    Authors: Dawn R. Weatherford, Devin Roberson and William Blake Erickson

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:25

    Content type: Original article

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  5. When a visual search target frequently appears in one target-rich region of space, participants learn to search there first, resulting in faster reaction time when the target appears there than when it appears...

    Authors: Caitlin A. Sisk, Victoria Interrante and Yuhong V. Jiang

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:21

    Content type: Original article

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  6. Professions such as radiology and aviation security screening that rely on visual search—the act of looking for targets among distractors—often cannot provide operators immediate feedback, which can create sit...

    Authors: Patrick H. Cox, Dwight J. Kravitz and Stephen R. Mitroff

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:19

    Content type: Original article

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  7. Cognition and action are often intertwined in everyday life. It is thus pivotal to understand how cognitive processes operate with concurrent actions. The present study aims to assess how simple physical effor...

    Authors: Hyung-Bum Park, Shinhae Ahn and Weiwei Zhang

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:17

    Content type: Original article

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  8. Experts outperform novices on many cognitive and perceptual tasks. Extensive training has tuned experts to the most relevant information in their specific domain, allowing them to make decisions quickly and ac...

    Authors: Samuel G. Robson, Jason M. Tangen and Rachel A. Searston

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:16

    Content type: Original article

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  9. Visual inspection of luggage using X-ray technology at airports is a time-sensitive task that is often supported by automated systems to increase performance and reduce workload. The present study evaluated ho...

    Authors: Tobias Rieger, Lydia Heilmann and Dietrich Manzey

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:12

    Content type: Original article

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  10. CCTV plays a prominent role in public security, health and safety. Monitoring large arrays of CCTV camera feeds is a visually and cognitively demanding task. Arranging the scenes by geographical proximity in t...

    Authors: Benjamin W. Tatler

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:11

    Content type: Original article

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  11. According to the Gricean Maxim of Quantity, speakers provide the amount of information listeners require to correctly interpret an utterance, and no more (Grice in Logic and conversation, 1975). However, speak...

    Authors: Gwendolyn Rehrig, Reese A. Cullimore, John M. Henderson and Fernanda Ferreira

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:10

    Content type: Original article

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  12. Domain-specific expertise changes the way people perceive, process, and remember information from that domain. This is often observed in visual domains involving skilled searches, such as athletics referees, o...

    Authors: Megan H. Papesh, Michael C. Hout, Juan D. Guevara Pinto, Arryn Robbins and Alexis Lopez

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:7

    Content type: Original article

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  13. Over the course of our lifetimes, we accumulate extensive experience associating the things that we see with the words we have learned to describe them. As a result, adults engaged in a visual search task will...

    Authors: Sarah Chabal, Sayuri Hayakawa and Viorica Marian

    Citation: Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 2021 6:2

    Content type: Brief report

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