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Zang, Xuelian; Huang, Lingyun; Zhu, Xiuna; Müller, Hermann J. ORCID: 0000-0002-4774-5654; Shi, Zhuanghua ORCID: 0000-0003-2388-6695 (November 2020): Influences of luminance contrast and ambient lighting on visual context learning and retrieval. In: Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, Vol. 82: pp. 4007-4024
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Invariant spatial context can guide attention and facilitate visual search, an effect referred to as “contextual cueing.” Most previous studies on contextual cueing were conducted under conditions of photopic vision and high search item to background luminance contrast, leaving open the question whether the learning and/or retrieval of context cues depends on luminance contrast and ambient lighting. Given this, we conducted three experiments (each contains two subexperiments) to compare contextual cueing under different combinations of luminance contrast (high/low) and ambient lighting (photopic/mesopic). With high-contrast displays, we found robust contextual cueing in both photopic and mesopic environments, but the acquired contextual cueing could not be transferred when the display contrast changed from high to low in the photopic environment. By contrast, with low-contrast displays, contextual facilitation manifested only in mesopic vision, and the acquired cues remained effective following a switch to high-contrast displays. This pattern suggests that, with low display contrast, contextual cueing benefited from a more global search mode, aided by the activation of the peripheral rod system in mesopic vision, but was impeded by a more local, fovea-centered search mode in photopic vision.