Journal Article

Feature synchrony-asynchrony and rate of change in visual search


Attention is known to be sensitive to the temporal structure of scenes. We initially tested whether feature synchrony, an attribute with potential special status because of its association with objecthood, is something which draws attention. Search items were surrounded by colours which periodically changed either in synchrony or out-of synchrony with periodic changes in their shape. Search for a target was notably faster when the target location contained a unique synchronous feature change amongst asynchronous changes. However, the reverse situation produced no search advantage. A second experiment showed that this effect of unique synchrony was actually a consequence of the lower rate of perceived flicker in the synchronous compared to the asynchronous items, not the synchrony itself. In our displays it seems that attention is drawn towards a location which has a relatively low rate of change. Overall, the pattern of results suggested the attentional bias we find is for relative temporal stability. Results stand in contrast to other work which has found high and low flicker rates to both draw attention equally [Cass, J., Van der Burg, E., & Alais, D. (2011). Finding flicker: Critical differences in temporal frequency capture attention. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 320]. Further work needs to determine the exact conditions under which this bias is and is not found when searching in complex dynamically-changing displays.

Attached files


Pilling, Michael
Georgieva, Milena

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development


Year of publication: 2019
Date of RADAR deposit: 2019-02-28

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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