Attentional set for axis of symmetry in symmetry-defined visual search

Percept Psychophys. 2006 Oct;68(7):1153-62. doi: 10.3758/bf03193717.


Olivers and van der Helm (1998) showed that symmetry-defined visual search (for both symmetry and asymmetry) requires selective spatial attention. We hypothesize that an attentional set for the orientation of a symmetry axis also is involved in symmetry-defined visual search. We conducted three symmetry-defined visual search experiments with manipulations of the axis of symmetry orientations, and performance was better when the axis orientations within the search array were uniform, rather than a mixture of two orientations, and the attentional set for the axis orientation could be kept. In addition, search performance when the target was defined by the presence of symmetry was equivalent to that when the target was defined by a difference of symmetry axis orientation. These results suggest that attentional set for axis orientation plays a fundamental role in symmetry-defined visual search.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Reaction Time
  • Set, Psychology