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On the Functional Role of Implicit Visual Memory for the Adaptive Deployment of Attention Across Scenes

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Although very little visual information is explicitly retained across views, some continuity of processing is afforded by implicit visual memory traces of previous views. These memory traces interact with attentional mechanisms to guide eye movements, cognition, and action. Two different memory mechanisms are described here. First, the deployments of focal attention and eye movements are facilitated towards recently attended features and locations (priming of popout). Second, attention is guided by implicit memory traces of specific visual contexts experienced in the past (contextual cueing). Compared to the visual memory tapped by change blindness tasks, the implicit memory mechanisms of priming of popout and contextual cueing do not require conscious intervention and may exhibit greater memory capacity, longer durability, and higher discriminability. Thus, these implicit traces of past views guide attention and eye movements to allow for effective access (indexing) to a scene's details, hence providing context and continuity to ongoing interactions with the perceptual world.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2000

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