Amount and duration of attentional demands during visual search.
Previous research has suggested that, in visual-search tasks, the comparison between target and display items does not require attentional capacity. In the present experiment we used a secondary-task paradigm to distinguish the amount and duration of the attentional demands of visual search. The subjects performed visual search (the primary task) and tone detection (the secondary task) concurrently over the course of five experimental sessions (1,440 trials). For each subject, target-response mapping was either consistent or varied for Days 1-5. The results indicate that the amount of attentional demand, as reflected in secondary-task performance, increased as a function of display size in the search task. Switching from consistent to varied mapping in a sixth experimental session increased both the amount and the duration of the attentional demands of the search. The present results support models of visual-search performance in which the comparison of target and display items requires attentional capacity.
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