The roles of cortical image separation and size in active visual search performance
Our previous research examined the effects of target eccentricity and global stimulus density on target detection during active visual search in monkey. Here, eye movement data collected from three human subjects on a standard single-color Ts and Ls task with varying set sizes were used to analyze the probability of target detection as a function of local stimulus density. Search performance was found to exhibit a systematic dependence on local stimulus density around the target and as a function of target eccentricity when density is calculated with respect to cortical space, in accordance with a model of the retinocortical geometrical transformation of image data onto the surface of V1. Density as measured by nearest neighbor separation and target image size as calculated from target eccentricity were found to contribute independently to search performance when measured with respect to cortical space but not with standard visual space. Density relationships to performance did not differ when target and nearest neighbor were on opposite sides of the vertical meridian, underscoring the hypothesis that such interactions were occurring within higher visual areas. The cortical separation of items appears to be the major determinant of array set size effects in active visual search.