Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 167, Issue 2, pp 246–259 | Cite as

Saccadic search performance: the effect of element spacing

  • Björn N. S. Vlaskamp
  • Eelco A. B. Over
  • Ignace Th. C. Hooge
Research Article


In a saccadic search task, we investigated whether spacing between elements affects search performance. Since it has been suggested in the literature that element spacing can affect the eye movement strategy in several ways, its effects on search time per element are hard to predict. In the first experiment, we varied the element spacing (3.4°–7.1° distance between elements) and target–distracter similarity. As expected, search time per element increased with target–distracter similarity. Decreasing element spacing decreased the search time per element. However, this effect was surprisingly small in comparison to the effect of varying target–distracter similarity. In a second experiment, we elaborated on this finding and decreased element spacing even further (between 0.8° and 3.2°). Here, we did not find an effect on search time per element for element spacings from 3.2° to spacings as small as 1.5°. It was only at distances smaller than 1.5° that search time per element increased with decreasing element spacing. In order to explain the remarkable finding that search time per element was not affected for such a wide range of element spacings, we propose that irrespective of the spacing crowding kept the number of elements processed per fixation more or less constant.


Visual search  Saccade Crowding 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Björn N. S. Vlaskamp
    • 1
  • Eelco A. B. Over
    • 2
  • Ignace Th. C. Hooge
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychonomics Department, Helmholtz InstituteUniversiteit UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Physics of Man, Helmholtz InstituteUniversiteit Utrecht The Netherlands

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