, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 202-238

Guided Search 2.0 A revised model of visual search


An important component of routine visual behavior is the ability to find one item in a visual world filled with other, distracting items. This ability to performvisual search has been the subject of a large body of research in the past 15 years. This paper reviews the visual search literature and presents a model of human search behavior. Built upon the work of Neisser, Treisman, Julesz, and others, the model distinguishes between a preattentive, massively parallel stage that processes information about basic visual features (color, motion, various depth cues, etc.) across large portions of the visual field and a subsequent limited-capacity stage that performs other, more complex operations (e.g., face recognition, reading, object identification) over a limited portion of the visual field. The spatial deployment of the limited-capacity process is under attentional control. The heart of the guided search model is the idea that attentional deployment of limited resources isguided by the output of the earlier parallel processes. Guided Search 2.0 (GS2) is a revision of the model in which virtually all aspects of the model have been made more explicit and/or revised in light of new data. The paper is organized into four parts: Part 1 presents the model and the details of its computer simulation. Part 2 reviews the visual search literature on preattentive processing of basic features and shows how the GS2 simulation reproduces those results. Part 3 reviews the literature on the attentional deployment of limited-capacity processes in conjunction and serial searches and shows how the simulation handles those conditions. Finally, Part 4 deals with shortcomings of the model and unresolved issues.

I thank Stacia Friedman-Hill and Alexander Bilsky for work on all aspects of this project. Ideas presented here were improved by conversations with Marvin Chun, Anne Treisman, Kyle Cave, and Nancy Kanwisher. I thank Asher Cohen, Patricia O’Neill, Alexander Bilsky, Greg Gancarz, Christoph Nothdurft, Jim Pomerantz, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on various drafts of this paper. This research is supported by NIH-NEI Grant RO1-EY05087 and by AFOSR Grant F49620-93-1-0407).