The role of highlighting in visual search through maps

Christopher D. Wickens*, Amy L. Alexander, Michael S. Ambinder, Marieke Martens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Two experiments were conducted in which participants performed a vehicle dispatching task. The intensity of one information source (vehicles in Experiment 1, destinations in Experiment 2) was varied to examine the effects of salience and discrimination on both searching for and processing the information in a cluttered display. Response times were recorded for questions either requiring focused attention on or divided attention between the different information domains in the map. The results of the present experiments indicate that it is possible to declutter a display without erasing any information. By 'lowlighting' one information domain and keeping the other domain at a fairly high intensity level, dividing attention between the information sources is optimal, as is focusing attention on either of the information domains exclusively. These results are discussed in conjunction with a computational model of confusion and salience which serves to predict search and integration performance in a cluttered display with separate domains of information displayed at different intensities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-388
Number of pages16
JournalSpatial Vision
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Highlighting
  • Map design
  • Visual search


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of highlighting in visual search through maps'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this