Suppressive effects in visual search: A neuron-computational analysis of preview search

Eirini Mavritsaki, Dietmar Heinke, G Deco, Glyn Humphreys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


In the real world, visual information is selected over time as well as space, when we prioritise new stimuli for attention. Watson and Humphreys [Visual marking: prioritising selection for new objects by top-down attentional inhibition of old objects. Psychol. Rev. 104 (1997) 90-1221 presented evidence that the prioritisation of new information in search tasks depends, at least in part, on the active ignoring of old items-a process they termed visual marking. In the present paper we present for the first time an explicit computational model of visual marking using a biologically plausible neural network. The model incorporates different synaptic components and a frequency adaptation mechanism, which acts to suppress the previously attended items. We show that, when coupled with a process of active inhibition to the old items, the pattern of preview search can be captured, as well as both efficient and inefficient search patterns in baseline conditions. The simulations point to the involvement of both active and passive inhibitory mechanisms in the preview effect in human search. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1925-1931
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2007


  • visual search
  • visual marking
  • frequency adaptation
  • spiking neurons


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