How serial is serial processing in vision?

E. Zohary*, S. Hochstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Visual search for an element defined by the conjunction of its colour and orientation has previously been shown to be a serial processing task since reaction times increase linearly with the number of distractor elements used in the display. Evidence is presented that there are parallel processing constituents to this serial search. Processing time depended on the ratio of the number of the two distractor types used, suggesting that only one type was scanned. Which type was scanned also depended on the distractor ratio, indicating that this decision was made after stimulus presentation and was based on a parallel figure-ground separation of the stimulus elements. Furthermore, in accordance with this serial scanning model, there was an increase in processing speed (elements scanned per second) with increase in number of elements to be scanned. This increased efficiency suggests that clumps of elements were processed synchronously. Under the stimulation conditions used, clumps contained six to sixteen elements and each clump was processed in 50-150 ms.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)191-200
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1989


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