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Changes in Color Guidance over the Course of a Complex Visual Search

Abstract
When searching for an object, we store a mental representation of the target, which guides our search through the use of attention. The effectiveness of this search guidance varies depending on the task and the relationship between target and distractors. With a better understanding of how search guidance changes over time within a trial, we can better compare the differences between experimental conditions. Eye tracking data from a variety of search tasks were analyzed to determine how color guidance varied over the course of the trial. Color guidance for a given fixation was evaluated based on the distance in color space between the nearest object and the target color. These color differences were averaged over all of the trials and plotted based on when the fixation occurred in the trial. The results indicate that color guidance does not begin working at maximum effectiveness immediately. As the trial progresses, the average color difference decreases. After this initial decrease, if the target is not present, guidance becomes less selective and target dissimilar distractors are increasingly fixated. The color distance graphs were compared between experiments to reveal significant differences arising from the experimental conditions.
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