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We review research from our laboratory that attempts to pull apart the functional and neural mechanisms of visual search using converging, inter-disciplinary evidence from experimental studies with normal participants, neuropsychological studies with brain lesioned patients, functional brain imaging and computational modelling. The work suggests that search is determined by excitatory mechanisms that support the selection of target stimuli, and inhibitory mechanisms that suppress irrelevant distractors. These mechanisms operate through separable though overlapping neural circuits which can be functionally decomposed by imposing model-based analyses on brain imaging data. The chapter highlights the need for inter-disciplinary research for understanding complex cognitive processes at several levels.

Original publication




Journal article


Prog Brain Res

Publication Date





135 - 148


Attention, Brain, Brain Injuries, Brain Mapping, Computer Simulation, Diagnostic Imaging, Functional Laterality, Humans, Models, Neurological, Neural Inhibition, Reaction Time, Visual Perception