False Pop Out

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A single, unique target often pops out quickly and efficiently from a field of homogenous distractors in visual search. Pop out has helped shape theories of visual attention and feature integration as well as to identify basic features in human vision. Here we report a new phenomenon, false pop out, wherein one of the homogenous distractors competes with the singleton target to pop out, perhaps by breaking an overall grouping or pattern emerging from the display. We show the effect occurs with more than 1 type of stimulus, and we discuss the implications of such a counterintuitive finding for theories of visual search.

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