Extremely Rapid Visual Search: The Maximum Rate of Scanning Letters for the Presence of a Numeral

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Science  15 Oct 1971:
Vol. 174, Issue 4006, pp. 307-311
DOI: 10.1126/science.174.4006.307


Subjects searched a rapid sequence of computer-produced letter arrays for the presence of a numeral in one of the arrays. The subjects' scanning rates were computed from their precentage of correct detections of the location of the numeral. Scanning rates were very high and approximately the same for a wide variety of conditions; the highest scanning rates (125 and 75 letters per second for two subjects) occurred when there were 9 or 16 letters in each of the arrays and when new arrays were presented every 40 to 50 milliseconds. Giving the subject advance knowledge of the numeral to be presented made little difference in the scores.