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James Tse, Thomas Baker, Scott Adler, Peter Gerhardstein; The role of awareness in saccadic conditioning. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):31. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.31.
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We investigated the role of awareness in eye movement conditioning in adults using a modification of the infant cued visual expectation paradigm reported in Adler, Zilberberg, and Chockalingam (VSS 2005). In Exp. 1, participants observed a sequence of shapes each presented individually one at a time on a computer display while their eye movements were recorded. One group of the participants was presented with a sequence of shapes that contained a Predictive cue-target relationship. Specifically, a central cue shape would always predict the location (left or right) of a subsequent target shape. The remaining group received a Non-predictive cue-target relationship where the cue did not predict the target's location. The dependent measure was the proportion of correct anticipatory saccades to the target's location prior to its onset. Participants in the Predictive group anticipated at a rate of .61, which was significantly above a chance rate of .50. However, this anticipation rate was significantly lower than .75 reported with 6-month-old infants in other cued visual expectation studies. About half of the participants reported being explicitly aware of the cue-target relationship and awareness was significantly correlated with anticipation performance. In Exp. 2, participants were given various hints about the cue-target relationship. The Partially Informed group was told to look for a pattern in the sequence of shapes that may be present. The Fully Informed group was explicitly told of the cue-target relationship. The hints improved adults' correct anticipations up to .88 (thereby establishing a ceiling performance of the procedure). Again, awareness score was correlated with anticipation performance. These findings are similar to studies linking awareness to conditional responding in trace differential eye blink conditioning (Clark, Manns, & Squire, 2002). We will also report on manipulations intended to improve the rate of correct anticipations without the use of instructional hints.
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