Does the Identification of Simple Features Require Serial Processing?

Charles L. Folk, Howard Egeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Several recent studies have shown performance decrements with increasing display size when background texture elements are present in a same-different feature discrimination task-a result that challenges the traditional notion that the identities of simple visual features are processed in parallel, preattentively. Four experiments are reported that explore the implications of these results. Experiment 1 replicates the recent studies but limits the generalizability of the results to small target numbers. Experiments 2 and 3 show that the observed performance decrements are not due to a serial or even limited-capacity, parallel process. Experiment 4 suggests that decision factors idiosyncratic to the use of texture elements in a same-different task are responsible for the effect. It is concluded that the identification of simple visual features proceeds in parallel, with unlimited capacity (i.e., preattentively).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-110
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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