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Kamin Kim, Min-Shik Kim; What is learned in ignored visual context?. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):839. doi: 10.1167/6.6.839.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Jiang and Leung (2005) showed that implicit learning of visual contexts occurred even for unattended contexts. They asked participants to search for a target from distractors of two colors, either matching (target-matching) or not matching the target color (target-mismatching). The target-mismatching context was ignored, but its repetition facilitated target search when it was attended later. Precisely, what kind of information is gained from the ignored context, and used during the later visual search process? We adapted the experimental design of Jiang and Leung with one modification that the stimulus display contained two target stimuli, one belonging to the attended set and the other to the ignored. In both sets, a target location was either repeated with or without a specific distractor configuration. We were interested in whether an ignored target location would be guided by a repeated distractor configuration. After a learning phase of 12 epochs, a transfer phase epoch followed, where two sets switched their color in half of the trials (switch/stay conditions); in the switch condition, previously attended set became ignored and vice versa. In the switch condition, response time level for the target within the context that had been ignored was not different from that for a target in a novel context. Learning of ignored context did not guide attention to the target location within that context. This suggests that what is learned in the ignored context is the spatial relationship between the distractor configuration and the attended, rather than the ignored target.
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