Pre-Attentive Processing (04 Jan 1999)
For many years vision researchers have been working to explain how the human visual system analyses images. One very interesting result has been the discovery of a limited set of visual properties that are processed preattentively, without the need for focused attention. Typically, tasks that can be performed on large multi-element displays in less than 200 to 250msec are considered preattentive. Eye movements take at least 200msec to initiate, and random locations of the elements in the display ensure that attention cannot be prefocused on any particular location, yet subjects report that these tasks can be completed with very little effort. This suggests that certain information in the display is processed in parallel by the low-level visual system.
Article URL: http://www.csc.ncsu.edu/faculty/healey/PP/index.html
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