Effects of Priming Visual Relatedness and Expectancy on Visual Search Performance
Hailston, Kenneth W.
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The current study examined two means of reducing uncertainty in visual search: 1) visual relatedness of a prime to the target (a data-driven, bottom-up processing) and 2) expectancy (a top-down process based on the proportion of validly primed trials). The two processes were decoupled using a short and a long inter-stimulus interval (ISI) to examine their time course in visual search. Competing hypotheses were contrasted in order to determine whether relatedness is associated with iconic memory (Neely, 1977) or a longer lasting visual-structural implicit memory (Schacter and Cooper, 1995) and what role participant expectancy plays in visual search performance. Twelve participants engaged in a discrimination task and a visual search task. The obtained results suggest that visual relatedness is a bottom-up process, probably mediated by a short-term iconic store that affects search performance early, but whose effects rapidly decay. They also suggest that expectancy is a top-down process that requires time to build up before it can affect visual search performance, but whose effects are more long lasting than visual relatedness.