Priming of popout: III. A short-term implicit memory system beneficial for rapid target selection
The priming of popout (PoP) (Maljkovic & Nakayama, 1994, 1996) increases the speed of attentional deployment to subsequent targets having the same feature characteristic and relative position, it lasts for approximately 5-8 trials, and is cumulative. Here we establish PoP as an example of short-term implicit memory by showing that it is qualitatively different from explicit memory. Using a post-cued recall procedure embedded in the stream of search task trials, we show that explicit memory is not selective as is PoP and is of much shorter duration. As such we argue that explicit memory is unlikely to account for the properties of PoP. In examining the decay of PoP, we find that: PoP is not evident after a 90sec delay, it does not show passive decay over much shorter intervals (1-3sec), and it gets decremented by attentional deployments to visually dissimilar stimuli, the size of the decrement being related to task difficulty. The results, taken together, suggest that PoP reflects a functionally beneficial memory system, specialized for the rapid and automatic selection of items for focal attention and saccadic eye movements.
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