Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Auditory-Visual Contextual Cuing Effect

Academic journal article Perception and Psychophysics

Auditory-Visual Contextual Cuing Effect

Article excerpt

Under incidental learning conditions, a spatial layout can be acquired implicitly and facilitate visual searches (the contextual cuing effect). Whereas previous studies have shown a cuing effect in the visual domain, the present study examined whether a contextual cuing effect could develop from association between auditory events and visual target locations (Experiments 1 and 2). In the training phase, participants searched for a T among Ls, preceded by 2 sec of auditory stimulus. The target location could be predicted from the preceding auditory stimulus. In the test phase, the auditory-visual association pairings were disrupted. The results revealed that a contextual cuing effect occurs by auditory-visual association. Participants did not notice the auditory-visual association. Experiment 3 explored a boundary condition for the auditory-visual contextual cuing effect. These results suggest that visual attention can be guided implicitly by crossmodal association, and they extend the idea that the visual system is sensitive to all kinds of statistical consistency.

It is widely accepted that visual attention is guided to potentially informative locations in two main ways. First, as can be experienced in our daily activity, deployment of attentional focus is subject to endogenous control. For example, when we are driving a car, attentional focus can be allocated endogenously to a particular object, such as a traffic sign or a truck immediately ahead. At the same time, the attentional focus can be captured exogenously by abrupt changes in the visual field, such as the sudden appearance of a motorcycle from behind the truck. These two ways have been investigated in the literature, respectively, as top-down or goal-directed control, and bottom-up or stimulus-driven control of attentional focus (e.g., Egeth & Yantis, 1997; Folk, Remington, & Johnston, 1992; Kim & Cave, 1999; Mackeben & Nakayama, 1993).

However, the factors contributing to the guidance of visual attention are not limited to these two components. Stuthes have also shown that the visual system is sensitive to consistency within the visual context and uses consistency as a cue to guide visual attention to target locations, resulting in enhanced visual search performance. Specifically, Chun and Jiang (1998) developed a contextual cuing paradigm and suggested that consistent structures, such as repetitively presented global spatial layouts, help spatial attentional focus to be allocated to a specific target location. In a typical experiment, participants searched for a target, T, among several distractors (rotated Ls). The location of the target and the distractors (i.e., the layout of items) defined the spatial context. The participants, who were not informed about the experimental manipulations, received two types of displays, the repeated and nonrepeated conditions. The displays under the repeated condition were presented in every block of trials. The target location in each of this type of display could thus be predicted from the spatial layout of the distractors. In contrast, the displays under the nonrepeated condition were created with the constraint that the location of the target be the same as in the repeated condition; the layout of distractors, however, was randomly determined from trial to trial. Therefore, the layout of the distractors did not provide clues for target location under this condition; that is, the targets under the repeated condition appeared consistently within the same spatial context, while those under the nonrepeated condition appeared in new spatial contexts. By the time participants had conducted several hundred trials under these conditions, they were faster at finding the targets under the repeated condition than under the nonrepeated condition. Interestingly, they did not notice tiiat some displays (i.e., the repeated condition) were presented many times throughout the session and that they were unable to recognize the repeated displays. …

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