Simulated central vision loss does not impair implicit location probability learning when participants search through simple displays

Douglas A. Addleman, Vanessa G. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Central vision loss disrupts voluntary shifts of spatial attention during visual search. Recently, we reported that a simulated scotoma impaired learned spatial attention towards regions likely to contain search targets. In that task, search items were overlaid on natural scenes. Because natural scenes can induce explicit awareness of learned biases leading to voluntary shifts of attention, here we used a search display with a blank background less likely to induce awareness of target location probabilities. Participants searched both with and without a simulated central scotoma: a training phase contained targets more often in one screen quadrant and a testing phase contained targets equally often in all quadrants. In Experiment 1, training used no scotoma, while testing alternated between blocks of scotoma and no-scotoma search. Experiment 2 training included the scotoma and testing again alternated between scotoma and no-scotoma search. Response times and saccadic behaviors in both experiments showed attentional biases towards the high-probability target quadrant during scotoma and no-scotoma search. Whereas simulated central vision loss impairs learned spatial attention in the context of natural scenes, our results show that this may not arise from impairments to the basic mechanisms of attentional learning indexed by visual search tasks without scenes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1901-1912
Number of pages12
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by the University of Minnesota Engdahl Research Fund, a University of Minnesota CLA Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, and the NSF NRT Fellowship DGE-17348915. We thank Gordon Legge for input on the conception and design of these experiments, and Julie Jia, Hunter Schouviller, Harlequin Mao, and Carolyn Henkle for assistance with data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Psychonomic Society, Inc.


  • central vision loss
  • selection history
  • visual attention
  • visual search

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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