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Poster E66

Effects of Spatial Predictability on Attentional Orienting and Memory Retrieval

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Marcus Sefranek1 (, Nahid Zokaei1, Dejan Draschkow1, Anna C. Nobre2; 1University of Oxford, 2Yale University

During visual search, ignoring distractors can be just as important as learning where to find targets. Research has shown that predictable target and distractor locations can facilitate visual search. Here, we tested how learned regularities about target and distractor locations impact subsequent memory retrieval and attentional orienting. In two online Experiments, participants learned to identify unique targets in real-world scenes, while simultaneously ignoring distractors. A factorial design manipulated the categories that defined targets and distractors objects (toys vs clothes) and their spatial predictability (fixed vs variable). Participants were faster and more accurate at finding predictable (fixed) than non-predictable (variable) targets. The consequences of this learning were then tested in attentional-orienting (Experiment 1) and memory-retrieval (Experiment 2) tasks. In Experiment 1, attentional orienting performance was linked to both relevance and predictability. Namely, participants were better at detecting targets than distractors. Also, benefits were demonstrated for fixed compared to variable targets, but not for fixed versus variable distractors. In Experiment 2, participants’ performance on object and scene memory were linked to relevance, with better performance for learned targets than distractors. However, there were no significant differences in performance based on predictability. Therefore, predictability was an important factor for facilitating orienting, but in the case of memory retrieval, predictability did not automatically confer advantage. Together, the effects of relevance and predictability during learning had different patterns of consequences on subsequent performance depending on task demands – whereas strong interactions between the factors determined attention-orienting functions, future memory quality was mainly driven by relevance.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Other


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April 13–16  |  2024