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The principle of good continuation in space and time can guide visual search in absence of priming or contextual cueing

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Previous research has shown that repetition of the same target features and/or spatial location over time can improve detection, discrimination, and identification. It has also been shown that repetition of the same distractor features or spatial layout can similarly improve search performance. Thus, it appears that target and distractor features and positions are stored in memory and used to guide visual processes such as object recognition and search. Here we introduce a new paradigm for manipulating the sequential structure of target position across trials independently of target features, position priming, and contextual configuration. Results show that facilitation or inhibition in visual search occurs when the target appears at an implicitly expected or unexpected location, respectively, according to the Gestalt's principle of good continuation of the target's successive positions across trials. These findings provide evidence that the simple rule of good continuation can act as a spatiotemporal cue and guide where to attend while searching for the target.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Department of Psychology, University College of London, UK 2: Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale, University of Padova, Italy

Publication date: 2007-10-01

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