Comparing the impact of contextual associations and statistical regularities in visual search and attention orienting

Read the full article See related articles

Listed in

This article is not in any list yet, why not save it to one of your lists.
Log in to save this article


During visual search, we quickly learn to attend to an object’s likely location. Research has shown that this process can be guided by learning target locations based on consistent spatial contextual associations or statistical regularities. Here, we tested how these different types of learning aid the utilisation of established memories for different purposes. Participants learned contextual associations or statistical regularities that predicted target locations within different scenes. The consequences of this learning for subsequent performance were then evaluated on attention-orienting and memory-recall tasks. Participants demonstrated facilitated attention-orienting and recall performance based on both contextual associations and statistical regularities. Contextual associations facilitated attention orienting with a different time course compared to statistical regularities. Benefits to memory-recall performance depended on the alignment between the learned association or regularity and the recall demands. The distinct patterns of behavioural facilitation by contextual associations and statistical regularities show how different forms of long-term memory may influence neural information processing through different modulatory mechanisms.

Article activity feed