Motion disrupts dynamic visual search for an orientation change

Emily M Crowe, Christina J Howard, Iain D Gilchrist, Christopher Kent*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Visual search in dynamic environments, for example lifeguarding or CCTV monitoring, has several fundamentally different properties to standard visual search tasks. The visual environment is constantly moving, a range of items could become targets and the task is to search for a certain event. We developed a novel task in which participants were required to search static and moving displays for an orientation change thus capturing components of visual search, multiple object tracking and change detection paradigms. In Experiment 1, we found that the addition of moving distractors slowed participants’ response time to detect an orientation changes in a moving target, showing that the motion of distractors disrupts the rapid detection of orientation changes in a moving target. In Experiment 2 we found that, in displays of both moving and static objects, response time was slower if a moving object underwent a change than if a static object did, thus demonstrating that motion of the target itself also disrupts the detection of an orientation change. Our results could have implications for training in real-world occupations where the task is to search a dynamic environment for a critical event. Moreover, we add to the literature highlighting the need to develop lab-based tasks with high experimental control from any real-world tasks researchers may wish to investigate rather than extrapolating from static visual search tasks to more dynamic environments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number47
Pages (from-to)47
Number of pages9
JournalCognitive Research: Principles and Implications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2021

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Visual Perception
  • Tactile Action Perception


  • dynamic visual search
  • feature change
  • motion silencing
  • response time
  • monitoring


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