Simulated central vision loss impairs implicit location probability learning

Douglas A. Addleman, Gordon E. Legge, Yuhong V. Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Some eye diseases, especially macular degeneration, can cause central vision loss (CVL), impairing goal-driven guidance of attention. Does CVL also affect implicit, experience-driven attention? We investigated how simulated central scotomas affected young adults' ability to prioritize locations frequently containing visual search targets (location probability learning). Participants searched among distractor letter ‘L's for a target ‘T’ that appeared more often in one screen quadrant than others. To dissociate potential impairments to statistical learning of target locations and attentional guidance, two experiments each included search with and without simulated scotomas. Experiment 1 successfully induced probability learning in a no-scotoma phase. When participants later searched both with and without simulated scotomas, they showed persistent, statistically equivalent spatial biases in both no-scotoma and scotoma search. Experiment 2 trained participants with a central scotoma. While Experiment 1's participants acquired probability learning regardless of their self-reported awareness of the target's location probability, in Experiment 2 only aware participants learned to bias attention to the high probability region. Similarly, learning with a scotoma affected search with no scotoma in aware but not unaware participants. Together, these results show that simulated central vision loss interferes with the acquisition of implicitly learned location probability learning, supporting a role of central vision in implicit spatial attentional biases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-252
Number of pages12
StatePublished - May 2021

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 Julie Jia, Hunter Schouviller, Harlequin Mao, and Carolyn Henkle for assistance with data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Central vision loss
  • Location probability learning
  • Selection history
  • Visual attention
  • Visual search

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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