Skip to main content

The role of position in object selection in vision

Summary

Within contemporary visual-information-processing psychology, two classes of selective-attention theories can be distinguished: position-not-special theories and position-special theories. The position-not-special theories postulate that attentional selection by colour, by form, and by position are equivalent selective operations. The position-special theories assume that selection by position is more basic or direct than selection by colour or by form. Examples of both types of theory are briefly described, and irrelevant and relevant evidence is critically discussed. It is concluded that the relevant evidence is directly compatible with the position-special views and that the position-not-special theories require additional extraneous assumptions. The position-special model presented in Van der Heijden (1992) is elaborated in further detail. It is shown that this model is compatible with two important and often substantiated assumptions of the position-not-special theories: the assumption that pre-attentive analysers organize the visual scene in objects against a background, and the assumption that visual-selective attention can be directed at objects isolated in this way. This position-special theory is a parsimonious theory because it can identify the mentalistic conceptselective attention with the materialistic conceptspatial position.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Allport, D. A. (1987). Selection for action: Some behavioral and neurophysiological considerations of attention and action. In H. Heuer & A. F. Sanders (Eds.),Perspectives on perception and action. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Allport, D. A. (1989). Visual attention. In M. I. Posner (Ed.),Foundations of cognitive science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bongartz, W., & Scheerer, E. (1976). Two visual stores and two processing operations in tachistoscopic partial report.Quarterly Journal ofExperimental Psychology, 28, 203–219.

    Google Scholar 

  • Broadbent, D. E. (1958).Perception and communication. London: Pergamon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Broadbent, D. E. (1971).Decision and stress. London: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Broadbent, D. E. (1982). Task combination and selective intake of information.Acta Psychologica, 50, 253–290.

    Google Scholar 

  • Broadbent, D. E., & Broadbent, M. H. P. (1986). Encoding speed of visual features and the occurrence of illusory conjunctions.Perception, 15, 515–524.

    Google Scholar 

  • Broadbent, D. E., & Broadbent, M. H. P. (1987). From detection to identification: Response to multiple targets in rapid serial visual presentation.Perception & Psychophysics, 42, 105–113.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bundesen, C. (1990). A theory of visual attention.Psychological Review, 97, 523–547.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bundesen, C. (1991). Visual selection of features and objects: Is location special? A reinterpretation of Nissen's (1985) findings.Perception & Psychophysics, 50, 87–89.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bundesen, C., Pedersen, L. F., & Larsen, A. (1984). Measuring efficiency of selection from briefly exposed visual displays: A model for partial report.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 10, 329–339.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bundesen, C., Shibuya, H., & Larsen, A. (1985). Visual selection from multielement displays: A model for partial report. In M. I. Posner & O. S. M. Marin (Eds.),Attention and performance XI. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Butler, B. E., Mewhort, D. J. K., & Tramer, S. C. (1987). Location errors in tachistoscopic recognition: Guesses, probe errors, or spatial confusions?Canadian Journal ofPsychology, 41, 339–350.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cave, K. R., & Wolfe, J. M. (1990). Modeling the role of parallel processing in visual search.Cognitive Psychology, 22, 225–271.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, S. E. (1969). Retrieval of color information from preperceptual memory.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 82, 263–266.

    Google Scholar 

  • DeYoe, E. A., & Van Essen, D. C. (1988). Concurrent processing streams in monkey visual cortex.Trends in Neuro Sciences, 11, 219–226.

    Google Scholar 

  • Driver, J., & Baylis, G. C. (1989). Movement and visual attention: The spotlight metaphor breaks down.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 15, 448–456.

    Google Scholar 

  • Driver, J., & Halligan, P. W. (1991). Can visual neglect operate in object-centred co-ordinates? An affirmitive single-case study.Cognitive Neuropsychology, 8, 475–496.

    Google Scholar 

  • Duncan, J. (1980). The demonstration of capacity limitation.Cognitive Psychology, 12, 75–96.

    Google Scholar 

  • Duncan, J. (1981). Directing attention in the visual field.Perception & Psychophysics, 30, 90–93.

    Google Scholar 

  • Duncan, J. (1984). Selective attention and the organization of visual information.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 113, 501–517.

    Google Scholar 

  • Duncan, J., & Humphreys, G. W. (1989). Visual search and stimulus similarity.Psychological Review, 96, 433–458.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eimer, M., Nattkemper, D., Schrbger, E., & Prinz, W. (in press). Unwillkürliche Aufmerksamkeit. In O. Neumann & A. F. Sanders (Eds.), Aufmerksamkeit. Göttingen, Hogrefe.

  • Enns, J. T. (1990). Three-dimensional features that pop out in visual search. In D. Brogan (Ed.),Visual search. London: Taylor & Francis.

    Google Scholar 

  • Enns, J. T., & Rensink, R. A. (1991). Preattentive recovery of three-dimensional orientation from line drawings.Psychological Review, 98, 335–351.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eriksen, C. W. (1990). Attentional search of the visual field. In D. Brogan (Ed.),Visual search. London: Taylor & Francis.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eriksen, C. W., & Hoffman, J. E. (1973). The extent of processing of noise elements during selective encoding from visual displays.Perception & Psychophysics, 14, 155–160.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eriksen, C. W., & Hoffman, J. E. (1974). Selective attention: Noise suppression or signal enhancement?Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 4, 587–589.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eriksen, C. W., & Rohrbaugh, J. W. (1970). Some factors determining efficiency of selective attention.American Journal of Psychology, 83, 330–343.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eriksen, C. W., & St James, J. D. (1986). Visual attention within and around the field of focal attention: A zoomlens model.Perception & Psychophysics, 40, 225–240.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eriksen, C. W., & Yeh, Y. Y. (1985). Allocation of attention in the visual field.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 5, 583–597.

    Google Scholar 

  • Felleman, D. J., & Van Essen, D. C. (1991). Distributed hierarchical processing in the primate cerebral cortex.Cerebral Cortex, 1, 1–47.

    Google Scholar 

  • Francolini, C. N., & Egeth, H. E. (1980). On the non-automaticity of “automatic” activation: Evidence of selective seeing.Perception & Psychophysics, 27, 331–342.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fryklund, I. (1975). Effects of cued-set spatial arrangement and targetbackground similarity in the partial-report paradigm.Perception & Psychophysics, 17, 375–386.

    Google Scholar 

  • Garner, W. R. (1987). Location and color as cuing dimensions in contingent classification.Perception & Psychophysics, 41, 202–210.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gathercole, S. E., & Broadbent, D. E. (1984). Combining attributes in specified and categorized target search: Further evidence for strategy differences.Memory & Cognition, 12, 329–337.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hagenzieker, M. P., Van der Heijden, A. H. C., & Hagenaar, R. (1990). Time courses in visual information processing: Some empirical evidence for inhibition.Psychological Research, 52, 13–21.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hardin, C. L. (1988).Color for philosophers. Indianapolis: Hacket.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harms, L., & Bundesen, C. (1983). Color segregation and selective attention in a nonsearch task.Perception & Psychophysics, 33, 11–19.

    Google Scholar 

  • Humphreys, G. W. (1981). Flexibility of attention between stimulus dimensions.Perception & Psychophysics, 30, 291–302.

    Google Scholar 

  • James, W. (1890/1950).The principles of psychology (Vol. 1). Authorized edition, New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jonides, J. (1983). Further toward a model of the mind's eye's movements.Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 21, 247–250.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jonides, J., & Yantis, S. (1988). Uniqueness of abrupt visual onset in capturing attention.Perception & Psychophysics, 43, 346–354.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kahneman, D. (1973).Attention and effort. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kahneman, D., & Chajczyk, D. (1983). Tests of the automaticity of reading: Dilution of Stroop effects by color-irrelevant stimuli.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 9, 497–509.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kahneman, D., & Henik, A. (1977). Effects of visual grouping on immediate recall and selective attention. In S. Dornic (Ed.),Attention and performance VII. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kahneman, D., & Henik, A. (1981). Perceptual organization and attention. In M. Kubovy & J. R. Pomerantz (Eds.).Perceptual organization. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kahneman, D., & Treisman, A. (1984). Changing views of attention and automaticity. In R. Parasuraman and P. R. Davies (Eds.).Varieties of attention. New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kanwisher, N., & Driver, J. (1992). Objects, attributes, and visual attention: Which, what, and where.Current Directions in Psychological Science, 1, 26–31.

    Google Scholar 

  • Keele, S. W., Cohen, A., Ivry, R., Liotti, M., & Yee, P. (1988). Tests of a temporal theory of attentional binding.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 14, 444–452.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kmmhansl, C. L. (1982). Abrupt changes in visual stimulation enhance processing of form and location information.Perception & Psychophysics, 32(6), 511–523.

    Google Scholar 

  • LaBerge, D., & Brown, V. (1989). Theory of attentional operations in shape identification.Psychological Review, 96, 101–124.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lawrence, D. H. (1971). Two studies of visual search for word targets with controlled rates of presentation.Perception & Psychophysics, 10, 85–89.

    Google Scholar 

  • Livingstone, M., & Hubel, D. (1988). Segregation of form, color, movement, and depth: Anatomy, physiology, and perception.Science, 240, 740–749.

    Google Scholar 

  • McClean, J. P., Broadbent, D. E., & Broadbent, M. H. P. (1982). Combining attributes in rapid serial visual presentation tasks.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 35 A, 171–186.

    Google Scholar 

  • McLeod, P., Driver, J., & Crisp, J. (1988). Visual search for a conjunction of movement and form is parallel.Nature, 332, 154–155.

    Google Scholar 

  • McLeod, P., Driver, J., Dienes, Z., & Crisp, J. (1991). Filtering by movement in visual search.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 17, 55–64.

    Google Scholar 

  • Merikle, P. M. (1980). Selection from visual persistence by perceptual groups and category membership.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 109, 279–295.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mewhort, D. J. K., Campbell, A. J., Marchetti, F. M., & Campbell, J.I.D. (1981). Identification, localisation, and “iconic memory”: An evaluation of the bar-probe task.Memory & Cognition, 9, 50–67.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, J. (1989). The control of attention by abrupt visual onsets and offsets.Perception & Psychophysics, 45, 567–571.

    Google Scholar 

  • Müller, H. J., & Rabbit, P. M. A. (1989). Spatial cueing and the relation between the accuracy of “Where” and “What” decisions in visual search.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 41 A, 747–773.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nakayama, K., & Mackeben, M. (1989). Sustained and transient components of focal visual attention.Vision Research, 29, 1631–1647.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nakayama, K., & Silverman, G. H. (1986). Serial and parallel processing of visual feature conjunctions.Nature, 320, 264–265.

    Google Scholar 

  • Neisser, U. (1967).Cognitive psychology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

    Google Scholar 

  • Neumann, O. (1987). Beyond capacity: A functional view of attention. In H. Heuer & A. F. Sanders (Eds.),Perspectives on perception and action. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nissen, M. J. (1985). Accessing features and objects: Is location special? In M. I. Posner & O. S. M. Marin (Eds.),Attention and performance XI. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Norman, D. A. (1968). Towards a theory of memory and attention.Psychological Review, 75, 522–536.

    Google Scholar 

  • Phaf, R. H., Van der Heijden, A. H. C., and Hudson, P. T. W. (1990). SLAM: A connectionist model for attention in visual selection tasks.Cognitive Psychology, 22, 273–341.

    Google Scholar 

  • Posner, M. I. (1980). Orienting of attention. The VIIth Sir Frederic Bartlett Lecture:Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 32, 3–25.

    Google Scholar 

  • Posner, M. I., & Cohen, Y. (1984). Components of visual orienting. In H. Bouma & D. G. Bouwhuis (Eds.),Attention and performance X. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Posner, M. I., Snyder, C. R. R., & Davidson, B. J. (1980). Attention and the detection of signals.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 109, 160–174.

    Google Scholar 

  • Prinzmetal, W., & Keysar, B. (1989). Functional theory of illusory conjunctions and neon colors.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 165–190.

    Google Scholar 

  • Remington, R., & Pierce, L. (1984). Moving attention: Evidence for time-invariant shifts of visual selective attention.Perception & Psychophysics, 35, 393–399.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shapley, R. (1990). Visual sensitivity and parallel retinocortical channels.Annual Review of Psychology, 41, 635–658.

    Google Scholar 

  • Snyder, C. R. R. (1972). Selection, inspection and naming in visual search.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 92, 428–431.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sperling, G. (1960). The information available in brief visual presentations.Psychological Monograph, 74(11), (whole no. 498).

  • Theeuwes, J. (1991a). Cross-dimensional perceptual selectivity.Perception & Psychophysics, 50, 184–193.

    Google Scholar 

  • Theeuwes, J. (1991b). Exogeneous and endogeneous control of attention: The effect of visual onsets and offsets.Perception & Psychophysics, 49, 83–90.

    Google Scholar 

  • Theeuwes, J. (1992). Perceptual selectivity for color and form.Perception & Psychophysics, 51, 599–606.

    Google Scholar 

  • Titchener, E. B. (1908).Lectures on the elementary psychology of feeling and attention. New York: MacMillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Todd, J. T., & Van Gelder, P. (1979). Implications of a sustained-transient dichotomy for the measurement of human performance.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 5, 625–638.

    Google Scholar 

  • Treisman, A. M. (1988). Features and objects: The fourteenth Bartlett memorial lecture.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 40A, 201–237.

    Google Scholar 

  • Treisman, A. M. (1990a). Variations on the theme of feature integration: Reply to Navon (1990).Psychological Review, 97, 460–463.

    Google Scholar 

  • Treisman, A. M. (1990b). Search and the detection and integration of features.Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 13, 454–455.

    Google Scholar 

  • Treisman, A. M., & Gelade, G. (1980). A feature integration theory of attention.Cognitive Psychology, 12, 97–136.

    Google Scholar 

  • Treisman, A. M., & Gormican, S. (1988). Feature analysis in early vision: Evidence from search asymmetries.Psychological Review, 95, 15–48.

    Google Scholar 

  • Treisman, A. M., Kahneman, D., & Burkell, J. (1983). Perceptual objects and the cost of filtering.Perception & Psychophysics, 33, 527–532.

    Google Scholar 

  • Treisman, A. M., & Sato, S. (1990). Conjunction search revisited.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 16, 459–478.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tsal, Y., & Lavie, N. (1988). Attending to color and shape: The special role of location in selective visual processing.Perception & Psychophysics, 44, 15–21.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vaina, L. M. (1990). “What” and “where” in the human visual system: Two hierarchies of visual modules.Synthese, 83, 49–91.

    Google Scholar 

  • Van der Heijden, A. H. C. (1992).Selective attention in vision. London-New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Van der Velde, F., & Van der Heijden, A. H. C. (in press). An element in the visual field is just a conjunction of attributes: A critique of Bundesen (1991).Perception & Psychophysics.

  • Von Wright, J. M. (1968). Selection in visual immediate memory.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 20, 62–68.

    Google Scholar 

  • Von Wright, J. M. (1970). On selection in visual immediate memory.Acta Psychologica, 33, 280–292.

    Google Scholar 

  • Von Wright, J. M. (1972). On the problem of selection in iconic memory.Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 13, 159–171.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wolfe, J. M., Cave, K. R., & Franzel, S. L. (1989). Guided search: An alternative to the feature integration model for visual search.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 15, 419–433.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yantis, S., & Jonides, J. (1984). Abrupt visual onsets and selective attention: Evidence from visual search.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 10, 601–621.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yantis, S., & Jonides, J. (1990). Abrupt visual onsets and selective attention: Voluntary versus automatic allocation.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 16, 121–134.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zeki, S., & Shipp, S. (1988). The functional logic of cortical connections.Nature, 355, 311–317.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

van der Heijden, A.H.C. The role of position in object selection in vision. Psychol. Res 56, 44–58 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00572132

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00572132

Keywords

  • Visual Scene
  • Relevant Evidence
  • Attentional Selection
  • Object Selection
  • Selective Operation