Psychological Research

, Volume 73, Issue 2, pp 198–211 | Cite as

Dimensional weighting of primary and secondary target-defining dimensions in visual search for singleton conjunction targets

  • Ralph Weidner
  • Hermann J. Müller
Original Article


Two experiments investigated dimension-based attentional processing in a complex singleton conjunction search task. In Experiment 1, observers had to discern the presence of a singleton target defined by a conjunction of size (fixed primary dimension) with either color or motion direction (secondary dimension). Similar to findings in singleton feature search, changes (vs. repetitions) of the secondary dimension across trials resulted in reaction time (RT) costs—which were, however, increased by a factor of 3–5 compared to singleton feature search. In Experiment 2, the coding of search-critical, dimensional saliency signals was investigated by additionally presenting targets redundantly defined in both secondary dimensions, with redundant-target signals being either spatially coincident or separate (i.e., one vs. two target items). Redundant-target RTs significantly violated Miller’s (Cognit Psychol 14:247–279, 1982) race model inequality only when redundant signals were spatially coincident (i.e., bound to a single object), indicating coactive processing of target information in the two secondary dimensions. These findings suggest that the coding and combining of signals from different visual dimensions operates in parallel. Increased change costs in singleton conjunction search are likely to reflect a reduced amount of weight available for processing the secondary target-defining dimensions, due to a large amount of weight being bound by the primary dimension.


Target Item Display Size Color Target Search Display Conjunction Search 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by DFG grants FOR480 and EC142 (Excellence Cluster ‘CoTeSys’).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Neurosciences and Medicine (INM 3) - Cognitive NeurologyResearch Centre JülichJülichGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MunichMunichGermany
  3. 3.School of Psychology, Birckbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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