The Functional Role of Alternation Advantage in the Sequence Effect of Symbolic Cueing with Nonpredictive Arrow Cues

By Qian, Qian; Song, Miao et al. | Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, October 2012 | Go to article overview

The Functional Role of Alternation Advantage in the Sequence Effect of Symbolic Cueing with Nonpredictive Arrow Cues


Qian, Qian, Song, Miao, Shinomori, Keizo, Wang, Feng, Attention, Perception and Psychophysics


Published online: 21 June 2012

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2012

Abstract Previous studies have shown that attention orienting is influenced by the orienting processes of previous trials in a spatial-cueing paradigm. This sequence effect is due to the fact that performance is facilitated when cue validity (valid or invalid) repeats between trials. In this study, we investigated the influences of cue direction and target location on the sequence effect of symbolic cueing with a nonpredictive central arrow cue. The cue direction was manipulated to always point in a certain direction in one condition, and to always point in the opposite direction in a second condition. The results showed that sequence effects were enhanced by the alternation of cue direction and target location and were impaired by the repetition of cue direction and target location. The same result pattern was found when the cue direction was chosen randomly in the third condition. The results suggested that both the repetition advantage effect of cue validity and the alternation advantage effect of cue direction and target location are involved in the sequence effect within the symboliccueing paradigm.

Keywords Sequence effect . Arrow cueing . Attention orienting . Cueing effect

Although some early studies suggested that very little visual information is explicitly retained across views (see, e.g., Ballard, Hayhoe, & Pelz, 1995; Grimes, 1996), a number of more recent studies have consistently shown that attention allocation is heavily influenced by the most recently viewed stimuli that were important for behavior (e.g., Chun & Nakayama, 2000; Wolfe, Butcher, Lee, & Hyle, 2003). For instance, Maljkovic and Nakayama (1994) found that in searching for a color singleton target, when target and nontarget colors are switched unpredictably from trial to trial, response is faster in a trial on which the target color is the same as in the preceding trial than in a trial on which the target color is different, a phenomenon that they called priming of pop-out (PoP). Besides color, this sequence effect on visual search performance has also been observed in investigations of other properties, such as orientation (Hillstrom, 2000), shape (Lamy, Carmel, Egeth, & Leber, 2006), location (Maljkovic & Nakayama, 1996), and even emotional expression (Lamy, Amunts, & Bar-Haim, 2008). PoP is generally believed to be afforded by implicit visual memory mechanisms and without voluntary intervention (Kristjánsson, 2006). Another good demonstration of sequence effects between trials is negative priming (e.g., Neill & Valdes, 1992; Tipper, 2001), which refers to the phenomenon wherein a target stimulus is more slowly responded to on a current trial when the same stimulus was ignored on a previous trial. Negative priming has mainly been explained as selective inhibition or episodic retrieval (Egner & Hirsch, 2005). All of these studies have shown that some crucial information from previous views could be used to guide attention allocation shortly afterward.

Sequence effects between trials have also been found in the central-cueing paradigm, in which observers respond to a leftor right target following a valid or an invalid central symbolic cue that indicated the possible target locations. By using a predictive central arrow cue (i.e., as 80 % ratio of valid trials among all trials), Jongen and Smulders (2007) reported that the cueing effect (i.e., mean RT of invalid trials - mean RT of valid trials) was larger after a valid trial than after an invalid trial. They explained this sequence effect as momentary strategic adjustments in which participants adapt their utilization of the cue depending on whether it had correctly or wrongly directed their attention on the previous trial. Specifically, a valid trial enhances the expectation for repetitions, so that it is beneficial to direct attention to the cued location, whereas an invalid trial weakens this expectation, or even promotes orienting to the uncued location. …

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