Extensive research into the role of saccadic eye movements in human visual perception has been carried out for many years. Although the search patterns of different observers while studying the same image bear some common characteristics, there are often variations in the temporal order in which fixation points are viewed. During visual search for a defined target, there is evidence for both parallel search, with which all objects are processed concurrently, and for sequential search, in which several fixation points are found leading to the target. In this article, we present a review of both theoretical and experimental research directed towards better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of visual search. We begin by looking at the basic dynamics of saccadic eye movements and some of the major psychophysical models that have been developed over the years. An overview of the practical applications and future trends of visual search is then provided. Visual search is a common task that people perform throughout their daily life, and the number of applications inspired by the human visual search mechanism is potentially large. The purpose of this paper is to highlight some of the key opportunities for the image and vision computing community and promote further interactions between biological and computational vision research.
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