The specificity of the search template

Mary J. Bravo, Hany Farid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


When searching for a target object, observers use an internal representation of the target's appearance as a search template. This study used naturalistic stimuli to examine the specificity of this template. Observers first learned several name-image pairs; they then participated in a search experiment in which the names served as cues and the images served as targets. To test whether the observers searched for the targets using an exact image template, we included targets that were transformations of the studied image and targets that belonged to the same subordinate-level category as the studied image. The same stimuli were also used in a search experiment involving image cues. The name cue and image cue experiments produced different patterns of results. Unlike image cues, name cues produced similar benefits for transformations of the studied images as for the studied images themselves. Also unlike image cues, names cues produced no benefit for members of the same subordinate-level category as the studied image. These results suggest that when observers are trained on an image, they develop a search template that is relatively specific for the image but still tolerant to changes in scale and orientation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number34
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 23 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


  • Attention
  • Object recognition
  • Visual search


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