Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

The Effect of Practice on Location Cueing and Visual Search

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

The Effect of Practice on Location Cueing and Visual Search

Article excerpt

Abstract Location cueing can facilitate response times when target-detection tasks are performed. A target-detection experiment was conducted with inexperienced participants to determine whether or not the magnitude of facilitative location cueing effects would change as a function of practice. Over the course of five test sessions, these effects attenuated. This suggests that practice decreases the influence of location cues on visual search performance and attentional processing. We propose that when participants perform cued visual search experiments and become familiar with potential target locations as a result of extended practice and automaticity, these locations are encoded in spatial memory by an operation called spatial indexing.

Resume Le reperage de l'emplacement peut reduire le temps de reaction lors de taches consistant a detecter des cibles. Une experience de detection de cibles a laquelle ont participe des personnes inexperimentees a et menee pour determiner si les effets facilitateurs du reperage de l'emplacement changeaient avec 1'entrainement. Au fil des cinq seances, ces effets se sont attenues, ce qui laisse presumer que 1'entrainement diminue l'influence des reperes sur la recherche visuelle et l'attention necessaire. Nous croyons que, lorsque les participants a des experiences de recherche visuelle avec reperes se sont familiarises avec l'emplacement de cibles potentielles par suite d'un long entrainement et d'une automatisation, l'emplacement de ces cibles est encode dans la memoire spatiale par une operation appelee repertoriage spatial.

When target detection tasks are performed, location cues can facilitate or inhibit response times (RTs) depending on whether the cue is a valid indicator of the impending target's location or not (e.g., Posner, Snyder, & Davidson, 1980). A direct or peripheral cue (e.g., a bar-marker, underline, or box), if valid, is typically presented at or near the target's location and, if invalid, at a nontarget location (e.g., Posner, 1980). This technique is sometimes called exogenous cueing. Previous research indicates that, in most cases, when the delay between cue and target onset is 100 ms, valid direct cues have their strongest effect on RTs and, when this cuetarget-onset-asynchrony (CTOA) is increased from 100 to 200 ms, cue effectiveness attenuates (Miller Sr Findlay, 1988; Miller & Rabbitt, 1989; Shepard & Miller, 1989; Weichselgartner & Sperling, 1987). In other words, the facilitative effect of direct cues appears to be transient and to last about 200 ms. If two successive direct cues are presented 200 ms apart at different locations, then the facilitative effect of the first cue not only attenuates, but changes to an inhibitory effect on detection RTs for targets presented at this location 300 ms or more after cue onset (e.g., Posner & Cohen, 1984; Posner, Rafal, Choate, & Vaughan, 1985; Possamai, 1985; Rafal, Egly, & Rhodes, 1994; Tipper, Driver, & Weaver, 1991; Tipper & Weaver, 1998; Tipper, Weaver, & Houghton, 1994; Wright & Richard, 1998). Posner and Cohen (1984) called this effect inhibition-ofreturn and proposed that it occurs to increase visual search efficiency by biasing search away from previously inspected locations and toward novel locations. Thus, the effect of location cues on target-detection RTs appears to change as a function of the delay between cue and target onset.

The efficiency of visual search can also increase as observers gain experience with the particular target-detection task at hand. For example, search for a target positioned among distractor items can become more rapid with practice, and can even reach the point at which automatic processes are said to mediate search performance (Czerwinski, Lightfoot, & Shiffrin, 1992; Kahneman & Treisman, 1984; Logan, 1988; Logan & Compton, 1998; Schneider, Dumais, & Shiffrin, 1984). As demonstrated by Treisman, Vieira, and Hayes (1992), an automatic process differs from a low-level, preattentive process in the sense that it becomes more efficient with repeated execution. …

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