Does Crowding Obscure the Presence of Attentional Guidance in Contextual Cueing?

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Fiske, Steven William
attention; memory; response time; search slope; visual search
thesis / dissertation description
The contextual cueing effect was initially thought to be the product of memory guiding attention to the target location. However, the steep search slopes obtained in contextual cueing indicate an absence of attentional guidance. We hypothesized that crowding could be obscuring the presence of attentional guidance and investigated this possibility in 2 experiments. Crowding was manipulated by varying the density of items in the local target region in a contextual cueing task. We observed a significant reduction in search slopes between the novel and repeated conditions when crowding was reduced. Enhancing crowding eliminated the contextual cueing effect. These findings suggest that increased crowding at larger set sizes attenuates the memory-based attentional guidance in contextual cueing thereby producing steep search slopes.