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The effects of induced optical blur on visual search performance and training

Musa, Azuwan; Lane, Alison R.; Ellison, Amanda

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Azuwan Musa



Visual Search is a task often used in the rehabilitation of patients with cortical and non-cortical visual pathologies such as visual field loss. Reduced visual acuity is often co-morbid with these disorders and it remains poorly defined how low visual acuity may impact upon a patient’s ability to recover visual function through visual search training. The two experiments reported here investigated whether induced blurring of vision (from 6/15 to 6/60) in a neurotypical population differentially affected various types of feature search task, if there is a minimal acceptable level of visual acuity required for normal search performance, and whether these factors affected the degree to which participants could improve with training. From the results it can be seen that reducing visual acuity did reduce search speed, but only for tasks where the target was defined by shape or size (not colour), and only when acuity was worse than 6/15. Furthermore, searching behaviour was seen to improve with training in all three feature search tasks, irrespective of the degree of blurring that was induced. The improvement also generalised to a non-trained search task indicating that an enhanced search strategy had been developed. These findings have important implications for the use of visual search as a rehabilitation aid for partial visual loss, indicating that individuals with even severe comorbid blurring should still be able to benefit from such training.


Musa, A., Lane, A. R., & Ellison, A. (2022). The effects of induced optical blur on visual search performance and training. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 75(2), 277-288.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 9, 2021
Online Publication Date Oct 13, 2021
Publication Date 2022-02
Deposit Date Sep 10, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 10, 2021
Journal Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Print ISSN 1747-0218
Electronic ISSN 1747-0226
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 75
Issue 2
Pages 277-288


Accepted Journal Article (178 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (

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