visual search how it works

Visual Search – How It Works?

In this article, we will discuss the question “ Visual Search – How It Works?” and the answer to this question is a very interesting one. Before we answer the question, we need to know what Visual Search is.

What is Visual Search?

Visual search is a process in which search for a target object from several distractors that are present in the scene. In this process, the target object can be a color, shape, or object. This process of finding a target object is also called Visual Search. The question “How does visual search work?” can be understood by first knowing what visual search is.

A typical example of visual search is searching for the target object like an apple among the number of other objects like oranges, lemons, etc. And to make it more interesting, the target object is to be searched among the number of distractors that are similar in color and size to the target object. So in this case, the target object would be an apple and its distractors would be apples, lemons, and oranges.

How Visual Search Works?

Now, let’s discuss how visual search works. Visual search is an automatic process of the human brain. It is carried out in two different ways depending on whether the target object is present in the scene or not. 

If the target object is present in the scene, then the search for it will be carried out using both bottom-up and top-down processing. On the other hand, if the target object is not present in the scene, then it will be searched for using top-down processing only.

Bottom-up Processing

In this method of search, the target object, as well as its distractors, are first analyzed as to whether they match or not concerning colors and shapes. In this way, only those distractors that match concerning colors and shapes will remain as candidates for being searched further. And now the remaining candidates will be filtered out one by one until a single candidate remains which will be searched further until it is found or not. So this is how bottom-up processing works.

Top-down Processing

In this method of search, general knowledge about the target object is used to guide the search for it from its parts or from similar objects that are around it. In this way, a general picture of the target object is formed in your mind and then you start searching for it from its parts or from similar objects that are around it. So this is how top-down processing works.

Main Factors in the Visual Search Process 

Three main factors are involved in the process of visual search. They are:

The Target Object

The target object is to be searched for among the distractors that are similar in color and size to the target object. So, in the case of an apple, if you are searching for an apple among oranges, apples, and lemons, the target object would be an apple.

The Distractors

The distractors are all the other objects that are present in the scene where you are searching for a target object. So if you are searching for an apple among oranges, apples, and lemons, these three would be the distractors.

The Search Path

The search path is the visual pathway between the target object and the attention center. So if you are searching for an apple among oranges, apples, and lemons, your eyes will move along this visual pathway from one object to another until it reaches the target object or not depending on whether you find it or not.

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