September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Contextual Relearning Following Target Relocation in Visual Search
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Elizabeth G Esser-Adomako
    Department of Psychology, George Mason University
  • Patrick Mead
    Department of Psychology, George Mason University
    Human Systems Integration Branch, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division
  • Shane Kelly
    Department of Psychology, George Mason University
  • Matthew S Peterson
    Department of Psychology, George Mason University
    Neuroscience Interdisciplinary Program, George Mason University
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 200b. doi:
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      Elizabeth G Esser-Adomako, Patrick Mead, Shane Kelly, Matthew S Peterson; Contextual Relearning Following Target Relocation in Visual Search. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):200b. doi:

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

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In contextual cueing, visual search is more efficient when viewing repeated visual contexts compared to randomly generated displays (e.g., Chun & Jiang, 1998). However, other research has indicated that no efficiency benefit occurs for displays in which there are unexpected changes to the target location in previously learned contexts (Conci and Müller, 2012; Conci, Sun, and Müller, 2011; Zellin, Conci, Mühlenen, and Müller, 2011; Zellin, Conci, Mühlenen, and Müller, 2013). This suggests that individuals do not “relearn” contextual cues following target relocation. In these studies, only the spatial location of distractors and targets were predictive of the target location, and targets were relocated to previously unoccupied locations, changing the displays’ overall spatial configurations. One possible explanation for the lack of relearning in these studies is that targets were swapped to a previously unoccupied location, which in turn changed the context. In addition, previous studies used grayscale displays, and the lack of color information might have led to impoverished contexts that were harder to learn. Another possible explanation is the size of the displays allowed for quicker searches, which in turn masked any relearning benefits. Lastly, another possible explanation is that the studies were underpowered or did not provide enough opportunities for relearning to occur. The current study accounts for these potential explanations of the lack of relearning after target relocation. Across four experiments, relearning was demonstrated with large and small visual search displays, with monochromatic and colorful targets and distractors, and with targets that moved to an unoccupied location as well as a previously occupied location. In contrast to previous studies, these results show that relearning of a secondary target location within previously learned contexts does occur, with faster search times to repeated contexts with a target relocation than to random displays.


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