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Stimulus-specific dynamics of learning in conjunction search tasks

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We investigated the time course of learning in visual search for within-dimension conjunctions in homogeneous (inverted V in Vs) or heterogeneous distractors (L in 90° counterclockwise-rotated Ls and 180° rotated Ls), and for across-dimension conjunctions search (green\in green/s and red\s). Two learning sessions of 10 and 5 blocks each took place three months apart. In the first session, the reduction in mean search time was greater for within-dimension conjunctions with heterogeneous distractors. Learning endured from one session to the other for all stimuli, suggesting that learning can be long-term in search for feature conjunctions. However, when the positional regularity between elements was perturbed, the effect of prior learning was reduced for homogeneous within-dimension conjunctions. This suggests that, for these stimuli, learning facilitates grouping by positional regularity. Finally, the learning effect with homogeneous withindimension conjunctions disappeared when both target and distractors were rotated to modify the orientation of conjunction patterns. This suggests that learning improves a grouping mechanism selective for the relative orientations of combined form features.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Italy

Publication date: 2001-03-01

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