Do you have an eye for detail? In Star Search, your task is to find the unique object while ignoring other space debris — challenging your selective attention. Let's look at the groundbreaking research that helped our scientists and game designers create this fun interstellar game.
One scientist's discovery in 1980
Anne N. Treisman, with a background in French Literature, didn't begin as an award-winning psychologist. But after switching professions, she noticed something fascinating while conducting research with her Visual Search tasks.
In one task, Treisman asked participants to find an object with a distinctive feature, like a red line between green lines. No matter how many distractors (green lines) there were, the red just "popped out" — and participants found it quickly.
The results were quite different, however, when the unique object shared all of its features, like shape and color, with the distractors. In a group of blue circles and yellow squares, for example, the object could be a blue square. In this case, Treisman found that the more distractors there were, the longer it took to find the object.
This discovery helped Treisman develop her famous theory, published in 1980, that would change the way scientists understand attention.
Treisman's theory on visual attention
According to Treisman's Feature Integration Theory, the brain quickly identifies features before processing entire objects. That's why the number of green lines didn't affect how quickly participants found the red.
Processing entire objects is a bit more complex, and this is where attention comes in. The attention works like a spotlight, focusing on one object and blocking out the others. Meanwhile, the brain breaks the object into its features, processes them in separate brain areas, and recombines them to form a coherent image.
In a game like Star Search, the brain goes through these steps with every single object — which is why finding the unique object takes longer with more distractors.
Star Search is designed to keep you challenged
Our scientists expanded on Treisman's tasks by adding more features, like texture and motion. As you process more complex objects at higher levels, you must direct your attention more efficiently in order to quickly find the unique object.
Ready to reach for the stars? Try your hand at Star Search when it appears in your daily workouts. Better yet, upgrade to Lumosity Premium and start playing now.
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