Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The relatively common experimental visual search task of finding a red X amongst red O's and green X's (conjunction search) presents the visual system with a binding problem. Illusory conjunctions (ICs) of features across objects must be avoided and only features present in the same object bound together. Correct binding into unique objects by the visual system may be promoted, and ICs minimized, by inhibiting the locations of distractors possessing non-target features (e.g., Treisman and Sato, 1990). Such parallel rejection of interfering distractors leaves the target as the only item competing for selection; thus solving the binding problem. In the present article we explore the theoretical and empirical basis of this process of active distractor inhibition in search. Specific experiments that provide strong evidence for a process of active distractor inhibition in search are highlighted. In the final part of the article we consider how distractor inhibition, as defined here, may be realized at a neurophysiological level (Treisman and Sato, 1990).

Original publication




Journal article


Front Psychol

Publication Date





attention, conjunction search, feature binding, inhibition, visual search