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Schlagbauer, Bernhard; Rausch, Manuel; Zehetleitner, Michael; Müller, Hermann J.; Geyer, Thomas (2018): Contextual cueing of visual search is associated with greater subjective experience of the search display configuration. In: Neuroscience of Consciousness, Vol. 4, No. 1, niy001
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Abstract

Visual search is facilitated when display configurations are repeated over time, showing that memory of spatio-configural context can cue the location of the target. The present study investigates whether memory of the search target in relation to the configuration of distractors alters subjective experience of the visual search target and/or the subjective experience of the display configuration. Observers performed a masked localization task for targets embedded in repeated vs. non-repeated (baseline) arrays of distractors items. After the localization response, observers reported their subjective experience of either the target or the display configuration. Bayesian analysis revealed that repeated displays resulted in a stronger visual experience of both targets and display configurations. However, subsequent analysis showed that repeated search displays increased the correlation between the experience of the display configuration and localization accuracy, but there was no such effect on experience of the target stimulus. We suggest that memory of visual context enhances the representation of the current visual search display. This representation improves visual search and at the same time increases observers' subjective experience of the display configuration.