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Schlagbauer, Bernhard; Mink, Maurice; Müller, Hermann J.; Geyer, Thomas (February 2017): Independence of long-term contextual Memory and short-term perceptual hypotheses: Evidence from contextual cueing of interrupted search. In: Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, Vol. 79, No. 2: pp. 508-521
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Abstract

Observers are able to resume an interrupted search trial faster relative to responding to a new, unseen display. This finding of rapid resumption is attributed to short-term perceptual hypotheses generated on the current look and confirmed upon subsequent looks at the same display. It has been suggested that the contents of perceptual hypotheses are similar to those of other forms of memory acquired long-term through repeated exposure to the same search displays over the course of several trials, that is, the memory supporting “contextual cueing.” In three experiments, we investigated the relationship between short-term perceptual hypotheses and long-term contextual memory. The results indicated that long-term, contextual memory of repeated displays neither affected the generation nor the confirmation of short-term perceptual hypotheses for these displays. Furthermore, the analysis of eye movements suggests that long-term memory provides an initial benefit in guiding attention to the target, whereas in subsequent looks guidance is entirely based on short-term perceptual hypotheses. Overall, the results reveal a picture of both long- and short-term memory contributing to reliable performance gains in interrupted search, while exerting their effects in an independent manner.