Expert camouflage-breakers can accurately localize search targets

Fallon Branch, Allison Jo Anna Lewis, Isabella Noel Santana, Jay Hegdé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Camouflage-breaking is a special case of visual search where an object of interest, or target, can be hard to distinguish from the background even when in plain view. We have previously shown that naive, non-professional subjects can be trained using a deep learning paradigm to accurately perform a camouflage-breaking task in which they report whether or not a given camouflage scene contains a target. But it remains unclear whether such expert subjects can actually detect the target in this task, or just vaguely sense that the two classes of images are somehow different, without being able to find the target per se. Here, we show that when subjects break camouflage, they can also localize the camouflaged target accurately, even though they had received no specific training in localizing the target. The localization was significantly accurate when the subjects viewed the scene as briefly as 50 ms, but more so when the subjects were able to freely view the scenes. The accuracy and precision of target localization by expert subjects in the camouflage-breaking task were statistically indistinguishable from the accuracy and precision of target localization by naive subjects during a conventional visual search where the target ‘pops out’, i.e., is readily visible to the untrained eye. Together, these results indicate that when expert camouflage-breakers detect a camouflaged target, they can also localize it accurately.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number27
JournalCognitive Research: Principles and Implications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Accuracy
  • Categorization
  • Pop-out
  • Precision
  • Visual search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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