Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 80, Issue 5, pp 1265–1277 | Cite as

Effects of absolute luminance and luminance contrast on visual search in low mesopic environments

  • Mathew HunterEmail author
  • Ben Godde
  • Bettina Olk


Diverse adaptive visual processing mechanisms allow us to complete visual search tasks in a wide visual photopic range (>0.6 cd/m2). Whether search strategies or mechanisms known from this range extend below, in the mesopic and scotopic luminance spectra (<0.6 cd/m2), has yet to be addressed. Based on a study that addressed simple target discrimination in luminance environments using contrast-dependent behavioral efficiency functions, we assessed visual search in more complex-feature and conjunction-search paradigms. The results verify the previously reported deficiency windows defined by an interaction of base luminance and luminance contrast for more complex visual-search tasks. Based on significant regression analyses, a more precise definition of the magnitude of contribution of different contrast parameters. Characterized feature search patterns had approximately a 2.5:1 ratio of contribution from the Michelson contrast property relative to Weber contrast, whereas the ratio was approximately 1:1 in a serial-search condition. The results implicate near-complete magnocellular isolation in a visual-search paradigm that has yet to be demonstrated. Our analyses provide a new method of characterizing visual search and the first insight in its underlying mechanisms in luminance environments in the low mesopic and scotopic spectra.


visual search Color and Light: Contrast Color and Light: Lightness/Brightness 



The authors would like to acknowledge funding support from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Cognitive Systems and Processes (COSYP) research center at Jacobs University Bremen.


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© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology & MethodsJacobs University BremenBremenGermany
  2. 2.HSD University of Applied SciencesCologneGermany

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