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We assessed the effects of pairing a target object with its familiar color on eye movements in visual search, under conditions where the familiar color could or could not be predicted. In Experiment 1 participants searched for a yellow- or purple-colored corn target amongst aubergine distractors, half of which were yellow and half purple. Search was more efficient when the color of the target was familiar and early eye movements more likely to be directed to targets carrying a familiar color than an unfamiliar color. Experiment 2 introduced cues which predicted the target color at 80 % validity. Cue validity did not affect whether early fixations were to the target. Invalid cues, however, disrupted search efficiency for targets in an unfamiliar color whilst there was little cost to search efficiency for targets in their familiar color. These results generalized across items with different colors (Experiment 3). The data are consistent with early processes in selection being automatically modulated in a bottom-up manner to targets in their familiar color, even when expectancies are set for other colors.

Original publication




Journal article


Atten Percept Psychophys

Publication Date





2622 - 2639


Eye movements and visual attention, Visual perception, Visual search, Adolescent, Adult, Anticipation, Psychological, Attention, Color Perception, Cues, Eye Movements, Female, Humans, Male, Photic Stimulation, Reaction Time, Young Adult