The detection of feature singletons defined in two dimensions is based on salience summation, rather than on serial exhaustive or interactive race architectures.

Attention, perception & psychophysics

PubMedID: 19933559

Zehetleitner M, Krummenacher J, Müller HJ. The detection of feature singletons defined in two dimensions is based on salience summation, rather than on serial exhaustive or interactive race architectures. Atten Percept Psychophys. 2009;71(8):1739-59.
Influential models of visual search assume that dimension-specific feature contrast signals are summed into a master saliency map in a coactive fashion. The main source of evidence for coactivation models, and against parallel race models, is violations of the race model inequality (RMI; Miller, 1982) by redundantly defined singleton feature targets. However, RMI violations do not rule out serial exhaustive (Townsend & Nozawa, 1997) or interactive race (Mordkoff & Yantis, 1991) architectures. These alternatives were tested in two experiments. In Experiment 1, we used a double-factorial design with singleton targets defined in two dimensions and at two levels of intensity, to distinguish between serial versus parallel models and self-terminating versus exhaustive stopping rules. In Experiment 2, we manipulated contingency benefits that are expected to affect the magnitude of redundancy gains and/or RMI violations on the assumption of an interactive race. The results of both experiments revealed redundancy gains as well as violations of the RMI, but the data pattern excluded serial-exhaustive and interactive race models as possible explanations for RMI violations. This result supports saliency summation (coactivation) models of search for singleton feature targets.