Feature asymmetries in visual search: Effects of display duration, target eccentricity, orientation and spatial frequency

Marisa Carrasco, Tracy L. McLean, Svetlana M. Katz, Karen S. Frieder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Experiments 1-3, we monitored search performance as a function of target eccentricity under display durations that either allowed or precluded eye movements. The display was present either until observers responded, for 104 msec, or for 62 msec. In all three experiments an orientation asymmetry emerged: observers detected a tilted target among vertical distracters more efficiently than a vertical target among vertical distracters. As target eccentricity increased, reaction times and errors augmented, and the set size effect became more pronounced, more so for vertical than tilted targets. In Experiments 4-7, the stimulus spatial properties were manipulated: spatial frequency; size; and orientation. The eccentricity effect was more pronounced for vertical than tilted targets and for high- than low-spatial frequency targets. This effect was eliminated when either the size, the size and orientation, or the size and spatial frequency were magnified (M-cortical factor). By increasing the signal-to-noise ratio, magnification reduced the extent of both asymmetries; it aided more the detection of tilted than vertical and of high- than low-spatial frequency targets. Experiments 4-7 indicate that performance improvement in the magnified conditions was due to the specific pairing of stimulus size with retinal eccentricity and not to the larger stimulus size of the magnified conditions. We conclude that stimulus size, orientation and spatial frequency influence the extent of the eccentricity effect and the efficiency of search performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-374
Number of pages28
JournalVision research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1998


  • Asymmetry
  • Attention
  • Cortical magnification
  • Display duration
  • Orientation
  • Retinal eccentricity
  • Spatial frequency
  • Spatial resolution
  • Visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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