September 2017
Volume 17, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2017
Repetition Priming Preferentially Benefits Infrequent Targets
Author Affiliations
  • Paul Scotti
    Department of Psychology, The George Washington University
  • Stephen Adamo
    Department of Psychology, The George Washington University
  • Stephen Mitroff
    Department of Psychology, The George Washington University
  • Sarah Shomstein
    Department of Psychology, The George Washington University
Journal of Vision August 2017, Vol.17, 1127. doi:
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      Paul Scotti, Stephen Adamo, Stephen Mitroff, Sarah Shomstein; Repetition Priming Preferentially Benefits Infrequent Targets. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1127.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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The process of searching for targets among distractors (i.e., visual search) is affected by a wide array of factors. One known factor is that search performance is improved if a previous search trial contained the same target as the current trial, a phenomenon referred to as repetition priming. Repetition priming has been observed in both pop-out search (e.g., Maljkovic & Nakayama, 1994) and conjunctive search (e.g., Becker, 2008; Kristj√°nsson & Driver, 2008), yet, much remains unknown about the robustness of this phenomenon. For example, previous instantiations of repetition priming have primarily used small sets of possible targets and distractors. The current investigation used a large array of possible targets and distractors in a complex search environment to test the limits of repetition priming and to explore novel factors that might affect it. Data were drawn from the mobile technology app Airport Scanner (Kedlin Co.,, a game wherein players search for prohibited items in simulated images of XRAY baggage. This is an ideal dataset for the current purposes given there are billions of individual trials, millions of unique users, and hundreds of distinct target types. The current study examined whether (1) repetition priming persists across many different targets that range in color, size, and shape; and (2) if individual target frequency (i.e., how often a specific target appears in search) modulates the priming effect. Repetition priming was observed; a target was detected faster if the previous search display contained the same target as opposed to a different target. Target frequency modulated this effect, whereby rarer targets benefitted more from repetition priming. These results suggest that repetition priming has direct consequences for complex searches, such as baggage screening, and that repeated exposure to specific targets attenuates this effect.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017


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