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At any given moment a large number of objects may be present in our visual environment, but we are typically only aware of a small subset of them. How do we reliably select the appropriate objects to accomplish our goals? How do we avoid becoming distracted by salient but irrelevant objects? These questions are central to the paradigm known as “visual search”. Over the past few years I have been working with some talented graduate students to explore the neural correlates and dynamics of visual search using event-related potentials (ERPs). Our work has focused on object selection, competition for representation, distractor suppression, visual short-term memory, and in particular on the interactions of space, task and object features on visual search. I will review key findings from this work and provide a brief overview of the insights it has provided into the neural bases for visual target selection, distractor suppression, and the capacity limitations of the human visual system.
Jeffrey Hutsler, (775) 682-8694