Visual foraging tasks provide new insights into the orienting of visual attention: Methodological considerations

Árni Kristjánsson*, Inga M. Ólafsdóttir, Tómas Kristjánsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The topic of visual attention has played an increasingly large role in visual perception research in the past half-century or so. This highlights the need for paradigms that allow a thorough understanding of the function of visual attention and that the experimental tasks that are used are varied and dynamic enough to sample the operational characteristics of visual attention. We discuss newly developed foraging tasks that are more dynamic than many tasks used in the literature, such as the visual search task. Our orienting in the visual environment may not be particularly well encapsulated by the analogy of search for a single item, a search that then ends once the single target is found. Multitarget foraging tasks might cast further light upon the orienting of visual attention, especially in dynamic, multitarget environments. During foraging, observers are asked to select a certain number of target types among distractor items. Here we discuss such foraging tasks, the main considerations for efficient design and effective data analysis. We propose that these tasks will be a highly valuable addition to the toolbox of scientists who investigate the operation of visual attention and visual cognition more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeuromethods
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

ISSN (Print)0893-2336
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6045

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Other keywords

  • Optimal foraging
  • Patch leaving
  • Visual attention
  • Visual foraging
  • Visual search


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