Acquisition of habitual visual attention and transfer to related tasks

Nikita A. Salovich, Roger W. Remington, Yuhong V. Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1052-1058
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Author note The research reported in this publication was supported in part by NIH Grant R03 MH102586 and by an undergraduate research award from the University of Minnesota. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Psychonomic Society, Inc.


  • Eyetracking
  • Habitual attention
  • Probability cuing
  • Statistical learning
  • Visual search


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