Visual search

Louis K.H. CHAN, William G. HAYWARD*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Visual search is the act of looking for a predefined target among other objects. This task has been widely used as an experimental paradigm to study visual attention, and because of its influence has also become a subject of research itself. When used as a paradigm, visual search studies address questions including the nature, function, and limits of preattentive processing and focused attention. As a subject of research, visual search studies address the role of memory in search, the procedures involved in search, and factors that affect search performance. In this article, we review major theories of visual search, the ways in which preattentive information is used to guide attentional allocation, the role of memory, and the processes and decisions involved in its successful completion. We conclude by summarizing the current state of knowledge about visual search and highlight some unresolved issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-429
Number of pages15
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science
Issue number4
Early online date19 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


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