Task specificity of attention training: the case of probability cuing

Yuhong V. Jiang, Khena M. Swallow, Bo Yeong Won, Julia D. Cistera, Gail M. Rosenbaum

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Scopus citations


    Statistical regularities in our environment enhance perception and modulate the allocation of spatial attention. Surprisingly little is known about how learning-induced changes in spatial attention transfer across tasks. In this study, we investigated whether a spatial attentional bias learned in one task transfers to another. Most of the experiments began with a training phase in which a search target was more likely to be located in one quadrant of the screen than in the other quadrants. An attentional bias toward the high-probability quadrant developed during training (probability cuing). In a subsequent, testing phase, the target’s location distribution became random. In addition, the training and testing phases were based on different tasks. Probability cuing did not transfer between visual search and a foraging-like task. However, it did transfer between various types of visual search tasks that differed in stimuli and difficulty. These data suggest that different visual search tasks share a common and transferrable learned attentional bias. However, this bias is not shared by high-level, decision-making tasks such as foraging.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)50-66
    Number of pages17
    JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


    • Incidental learning
    • Probability cuing
    • Spatial attention
    • Visual search

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