Rapid learning of rapid temporal contexts

Carly R Mayberry, Evan J Livesey, Paul E Dux
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 2010, 17 (3): 417-20
In an information-rich visual world and with limited attentional resources, what visual cues allow humans to efficiently navigate their environment? One key environmental characteristic is that stimuli rarely appear in isolation and typically coincide with other specific items that provide cues regarding where and when to guide our attention. Indeed, a predictive spatial context of distractors can enhance the deployment of attention to a target location (Chun & Jiang, 1998). However, can a predictive, temporal sequence of distractors, which do not enter working memory, cue when to allocate attention? Previous studies addressing this question have employed relatively long ( approximately < 500 msec/item) stimulus exposure durations. Thus, this temporal cuing may require extensive processing of the distractors. Here, we show that a rapidly presented (approximately 100 msec/item), predictive, temporal context, where stimuli undergo only preliminary analysis, can facilitate the deployment of attention to a specific temporal location.

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