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Geoffrey F Woodman, Marvin M Chun; Access to visual working memory is required for contextual cueing in visual search. Journal of Vision 2003;3(9):715. doi: 10.1167/3.9.715.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
When subjects search for target objects embedded in repeating distractor configurations that predict the location of the target, search is faster than for targets appearing in novel distractor configurations. This effect is known as contextual cueing (Chun & Jiang, 1998), and it occurs even though subjects cannot discriminate the repeated arrays from the novel arrays, indicating that the memory for predictive context is implicit. In the present study we examined whether visual working memory is necessary for such implicit contextual learning. Specifically, we asked subjects to concurrently perform visual search with an object change detection task that required visual working memory. We occupied visual working memory with a set of four objects that subjects were required to maintain throughout the search task. We found that filling visual working memory to capacity did not disrupt a general improvement in search performance, but it eliminated contextual cueing. Thus, this study provides novel evidence that implicit long-term memory for spatial context requires visual working memory.
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