Trading off stimulus salience for identity: A cueing approach to disentangle visual selection strategies

Davide Paoletti*, Matthew D. Weaver, Christoph Braun, Wieske van Zoest

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
128 Downloads (Pure)


Recent studies show that time plays a primary role in determining whether visual selection is influenced by stimulus salience or guided by observers' intentions. Accordingly, when a response is made seems critically important in defining the outcome of selection. The present study investigates whether observers are able to control the timing of selection and regulate the trade-off between stimulus- and goal-driven influences. One experiment was conducted in which participants were asked to make a saccade to the target, a tilted bar embedded in a matrix of vertical lines. An additional distractor, more or less salient than the target, was presented concurrently with the search display. To manipulate when in time the response was given we cued participants before each trial to be either fast or accurate. Participants received periodic feedback regarding performance speed and accuracy. The results showed participants were able to control the timing of selection: the distribution of responses was relatively fast or slow depending on the cue. Performance in the fast-cue condition appeared to be primarily driven by stimulus salience, while in the accurate-cue condition saccades were guided by the search template. Examining the distribution of responses that temporally overlapped between the two cue conditions revealed a main effect of cue. This suggests the cue had an additional benefit to performance independent of the effect of salience. These findings show that although early selection may be constrained by stimulus salience, observers are flexible in guiding the 'when' signal and consequently establishing a trade-off between saliency and identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-124
Number of pages9
JournalVision Research
Issue numberB
Early online date23 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • Eye movements
  • Saliency
  • Speed accuracy trade-off
  • Stimulus and goal driven
  • Time course

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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