Visual search and contextual cueing: Differential effects in 10-year-old children and adults

Jane W. Couperus, Ruskin H. Hunt, Charles A. Nelson, Kathleen M. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The development of contextual cueing specifically in relation to attention was examined in two experiments. Adult and 10-year-old participants completed a context cueing visual search task (Jiang & Chun, The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 54A(4), 1105-1124, 2001) containing stimuli presented in an attended (e.g., red) and unattended (e.g., green) color. When the spatial configuration of stimuli in the attended and unattended color was invariant and consistently paired with the target location, adult reaction times improved, demonstrating learning. Learning also occurred if only the attended stimuli's configuration remained fixed. In contrast, while 10 year olds, like adults, showed incrementally slower reaction times as the number of attended stimuli increased, they did not show learning in the standard paradigm. However, they did show learning when the ratio of attended to unattended stimuli was high, irrespective of the total number of attended stimuli. Findings suggest children show efficient attentional guidance by color in visual search but differences in contextual cueing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-348
Number of pages15
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Contextual cueing
  • Development
  • Implicit learning
  • Selective attention
  • Visual search


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