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  • Luque et al JEPHPP 2020

    Accepted author manuscript, 351 KB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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Contextual cuing of visual search does not guide attention automatically in the presence of top-down goals

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>26/03/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Visual search is faster when it occurs within repeated displays, a phenomenon known as contextual cuing (CC). CC has been explained as the result of an automatic orientation of attention towards a target item driven by learned distractor-target associations. In three experiments we tested the specific hypothesis that CC is an automatic process of attentional guidance. Participants first searched for a T target in a standard CC procedure. Then, they experienced the same repeated configurations (with the T still present), but now searched for a Y target that was positioned either in a location on the same, or on a different side, from the old T target. Results suggested that there was no interference caused by the old T-target: target search was not affected by the relative positions of the T and Y. Instead, we found a general facilitation in search times for repeated configurations (Experiments 1 and 2). This main effect disappeared when the need for visual search was eliminated in Experiment 3 using a “feature search task”. These results suggest that repeated sets of distractors did not trigger an uncontrollable response towards the position of the T; instead, CC was produced by perceptual learning processes.