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Kazuhiko Yokosawa, Yasue Takeda; Combination of background and spatial layout produces a stronger contextual cueing effect. Journal of Vision 2004;4(8):686. doi: 10.1167/4.8.686.
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It is known that top-down knowledge, such as the visual context, can affect visual processing. Chun & Jiang (1998) demonstrated that spatial configurations, which were repeated throughout an experiment, resulted in better visual search performance compared to newly generated configurations. This effect was termed the contextual cueing effect. We investigated how two types of contexts; spatial layout, and background, interacted to facilitate a search by using a contextual cueing paradigm modified by Hyun & Kim (2002). Four configuration conditions were used; all-old, layout-old, target-old, and irrelevant. Forty-eight textural images were used as backgrounds with 12 images assigned to each condition. In the all-old condition, the combinations of backgrounds and layouts were invariant, while in the layout-old condition they were recombined in every block. In the target-old condition, the combinations of backgrounds and target locations were invariant, while in the irrelevant condition they were changed in every block. Results indicated that the search time decreased significantly, except in the irrelevant condition. Moreover, several blocks after, the search time in the all-old condition became the fastest, followed by layout-old and target-old conditions. This indicates that each background and spatial layout results in the contextual cueing effect, and that their combination produces a stronger effect. Although it was easier to notice the background repetitions, the contextual cueing effect from the spatial layout was identical to that from the background. This suggests that in spite of conscious awareness, spatial layout context may play an important role in guiding attention to the target location.
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