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Four experiments examined the effects of precues on visual search for targets defined by a color-orientation conjunction. Experiment 1 showed that cueing the identity of targets enhanced the efficiency of search. Cueing effects were stronger with color than with orientation cues, but this advantage was additive across array size. Experiment 2 demonstrated that cueing effects interacted with bottom-up segmentation processes, whereas Experiment 3 showed the stronger effects of color cues remained in a compound task. Experiment 4 confirmed the enhanced effect of color cueing even when verbal rather than visual cues were used. The targets used were balanced for search efficiency within both orientation and color dimensions. We suggest search benefits from the top-down cueing of color compared with orientation because color cueing enhances the segmentation of displays into color groups more efficiently. This enables search to an appropriate color group to be initiated earlier. We discuss how top-down segmentation processes interact with differences in bottom-up segmentation to further improve target detection.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform

Publication Date





1108 - 1127


Adolescent, Association, Attention, Color Perception, Cues, Discrimination (Psychology), Female, Humans, Male, Orientation, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Young Adult