Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Bruce Milliken




Cognitive psychologists have long known that there are limitations on human information processing abilities. As such we must constantly attend to relevant information in our environment, sometimes for further processing, at the expense of other information. Visual search tasks have been used extensively by researchers who seek to understand the consequences that this selective attention process has on memory. It has been argued that the priming effects observed in efficient visual search tasks reflect specialized, short-term memory representations that differ markedly from the memory representations believed to produce priming effects in other performance tasks. To the extent that this is true, researchers must adopt a necessary level of complexity in terms of the memory models used to explain the full range of human behavior. The empirical goal of this thesis was to provide a rigorous examination of priming effects in efficient visual search, in order to determine whether such effects can be explained by reference to general, well-studied memory mechanisms that have yielded significant explanatory power in other attention and performance tasks. The results of the experiments reported here suggest that general, well-studied memory principles may be a suitable candidate explanation for priming effects in efficient visual search.

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