Rapid Resumption of Interrupted Visual Search:
New Insights on the Interaction between Vision and Memory
Alejandro Lleras, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL, USA.
Ronald A. Rensink, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
James T. Enns, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Psychological Science, 16: 684-688. 2005.
A modified visual search task demonstrates that humans are very good at
resuming a search after it has been momentarily interrupted. This is shown by
exceptionally rapid response times to a display that reappears after a brief
interruption, even when an entirely different visual display is seen during the
interruption and when two different visual searches are performed
simultaneously. This rapid resumption depends on the stability of the visual scene and is not due to display or response anticipations. These results are
consistent with the existence of an iterative hypothesis-testing mechanism that
compares information stored in short-term memory (the perceptual hypothesis)
with information about the display (the sensory pattern). In this view, rapid
resumption occurs because a hypothesis based on a previous glance of the
scene can be tested very rapidly in a subsequent glance, given that the initial
hypothesis-generation step has already been performed.
Back to main publications list.