Acquisition of habitual visual attention and transfer to related tasks.

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Psychonomic bulletin & review, ISSN: 1531-5320, Vol: 25, Issue: 3, Page: 1052-1058

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Salovich, Nikita A; Remington, Roger W; Jiang, Yuhong V
Springer Nature
Psychology; Arts and Humanities
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article description
Extensive research has shown that statistical learning affects perception, attention, and action control; however, few studies have directly linked statistical learning with the formation of habits. Evidence that learning can induce a search habit has come from location probability learning, in which people prioritize locations frequently attended to in the past. Here, using an alternating training-testing procedure, we demonstrated that the initial attentional bias arises from short-term intertrial priming, whereas probability learning takes longer to emerge, first reaching significance in covert orienting (measured by reaction times) after about 48 training trials, and in overt orienting (measured by eye movements) after about 96 training trials. We further showed that location probability learning is persistent after training is discontinued, by transferring from a letter search task to a scene search task-emulating another characteristic feature of habits. By identifying the onset of probability learning and investigating its task specificity, this study provides evidence that probability cuing can induce habitual spatial attention.