The Acquisition of Contextual Cueing Effects by Persons with and Without Intellectual Disability

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Two experiments were conducted to compare the acquisition of contextual cueing effects of adolescents and young adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) relative to typically developing children and young adults. Contextual cueing reflects an implicit, memory based attention guidance mechanism that results in faster search for target locations that have been previously experienced in a predictable context. In the study, participants located a target stimulus embedded in a context of numerous distracter stimuli. During a learning phase, the location of the target was predictable from the location of the distracters in the search displays. We then compared response times to locating predictable relative to unpredictable targets presented in a test phase. In Experiment 1, all of the distracters predicted the location of the target. In Experiment 2, half of the distracters predicted the location of the target while the other half varied randomly. The participants with ID exhibited significant contextual facilitation in both experiments, with the magnitude of facilitation being similar to that of the typically developing (TD) children and adults. We concluded that deficiencies in contextual cueing are not necessarily associated with low measured intelligence that results in a classification of ID.



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