Targets defined by attributes such as colour or brightness are said to "pop-out" from a cluttered scene, with little or no dependency on the size of the set to be searched, while search for other attributes can depend strongly on set-size. We measured contrast thresholds for increments and decrements in luminance or colour and show that they increase strongly with set-size (as previously observed for orientation). However, in some conditions, where the potential distractors were not salient visual targets, there was no dependency of set-size at all ("pop-out"). All the data can be modelled by assuming two main sources of uncertainty: the intrinsic uncertainty due to the number of detectors monitored during a specific task and the extrinsic uncertainty introduced by increasing the number of items displayed. The strength of the effect is well explained by a simple signal detection theory "signed-max" model suited for two-tailed tasks [Journal of Vision 2 (8), 559]. The results suggest that "pop-out" is not peculiar to luminance or colour, but may occur in conditions when the intrinsic uncertainty is so high as to saturate the effects of further uncertainty sources.
"Pop-out" of targets modulated in luminance or colour: the effect of intrinsic and extrinsic uncertainty / S. BALDASSI; D. BURR. - In: VISION RESEARCH. - ISSN 0042-6989. - STAMPA. - 44:(2004), pp. 1227-1233. [10.1016/j.visres.2003.12.018]