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Contextual Cueing Improves Attentional Guidance, Even When Guidance Is Supposedly Optimal

Harris, AM; Remington, RW; (2017) Contextual Cueing Improves Attentional Guidance, Even When Guidance Is Supposedly Optimal. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance , 43 (5) pp. 926-940. 10.1037/xhp0000394. Green open access

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Abstract

Visual search through previously encountered contexts typically produces reduced reaction times compared with search through novel contexts. This contextual cueing benefit is well established, but there is debate regarding its underlying mechanisms. Eye-tracking studies have consistently shown reduced number of fixations with repetition, supporting improvements in attentional guidance as the source of contextual cueing. However, contextual cueing benefits have been shown in conditions in which attentional guidance should already be optimal—namely, when attention is captured to the target location by an abrupt onset, or under pop-out conditions. These results have been used to argue for a response-related account of contextual cueing. Here, we combine eye tracking with response time to examine the mechanisms behind contextual cueing in spatially cued and pop-out conditions. Three experiments find consistent response time benefits with repetition, which appear to be driven almost entirely by a reduction in number of fixations, supporting improved attentional guidance as the mechanism behind contextual cueing. No differences were observed in the time between fixating the target and responding—our proxy for response related processes. Furthermore, the correlation between contextual cueing magnitude and the reduction in number of fixations on repeated contexts approaches 1. These results argue strongly that attentional guidance is facilitated by familiar search contexts, even when guidance is near-optimal.

Type: Article
Title: Contextual Cueing Improves Attentional Guidance, Even When Guidance Is Supposedly Optimal
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/xhp0000394
Publisher version: http://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/xhp0000394
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: contextual cueing, eye-tracking, visual search, attentional guidance, pop-out
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10035579
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