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Experience with searching in displays containing depth improves search performance by training participants to search more exhaustively

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Nick HollimanORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


n a typical visual search task, participants search for single targets amongst displays containing non-overlapping objects that are presented on a single depth plane. Recent work has begun to examine displays containing overlapping objects that are presented on different depth planes to one another. It has been found that searching displays containing depth improves response accuracy by making participants more likely to fixate targets and to identify targets after fixating them. Here we extended this previous research by seeking first of all to replicate the previous pattern of results, and then to determine whether extensive training using depth in search transfers to two-dimensional displays. We provided participants with sixteen sessions of training with displays containing transparent overlapping objects presented in depth, and found a similar pattern of results to our previous study. We also found evidence that some performance improvements from the depth training transferred to search of two-dimensional displays that did not contain depth. Further examinations revealed that participants learn to search more exhaustively (i.e., search for longer) in displays containing depth. We conclude that depth does influence search performance but the influences depend very much on the stimuli and the degree of overlap within them.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Godwin HJ, Menneer T, Liversedge SP, Cave KR, Holliman NS, Donnelly N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Acta Psychologica

Year: 2020

Volume: 210

Print publication date: 01/10/2020

Online publication date: 06/09/2020

Acceptance date: 25/08/2020

Date deposited: 27/11/2020

ISSN (print): 0001-6918

ISSN (electronic): 1873-6297

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103173


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