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Melina Kunar, Stephen Flusberg, Jeremy Wolfe; Time to guide: Evidence for delayed attentional guidance in contextual cueing. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):711. doi: 10.1167/7.9.711.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Contextual cueing experiments show that when displays are repeated, reaction times (RTs) to find a target decrease over time even when the observers are not aware of the repetition. Recent evidence suggests that this benefit in standard contextual cueing tasks is probably not due to an improvement in attentional guidance (Kunar, Flusberg, Horowitz & Wolfe, submitted). Perhaps spatial layout information can guide search through a repeated display when participants are given a sufficiently long time to encode the display. In Experiment 1, we increased the display complexity so that it took participants longer to find the target. Here we found a larger effect of guidance by spatial layout than in a condition with shorter RTs. Experiment 2 gave participants prior exposure to the spatial layout, by either presenting empty placeholders marking the general location of the items or pre-masks that offset at the exact locations of the search stimuli. In the pre-mask condition where there was an exact match between mask and search array, participants could use spatial layout to guide attention to the target. This was not true for the placeholder stimuli. These results suggest that guidance by the remembered spatial layout of a display is possible but slow. The standard contextual cueing benefit may be, in part, due to other mechanisms such as response priming.
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