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Integrating spatial context learning over contradictory signals: Recency effects in contextual cueing

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Contextual cueing is a visual search phenomenon in which memory of global visual context guides spatial attention towards task-relevant portions of the search display. Recent work has shown that the learning processes underlying contextual cueing exhibit primacy effects; they are more sensitive to early experience than to later experience. These results appear to pose difficulties for associative accounts which typically predict recency effects; behaviour being most strongly influenced by recent experience. The current study utilizes trial sequences that consist of two contradictory sets of regularities. In contrast to previous results, robust recency effects were observed. In a second study it is demonstrated that this recency effect can be minimized, but not reversed by systematically manipulating task-irrelevant features of the search display. These results provide additional support for an associative account of contextual cueing and suggest that contextual cueing may, under some circumstances, be more sensitive to recent experience.

Keywords: Contextual cueing; Learning; Visual search

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13506285.2011.586653

Affiliations: Stony Brook University, Stony BrookNY, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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