Age-Related Similarities in Contextual Cueing in the Presence of Unpredictive Distracters

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Contextual cueing effects of 6-8-year-old children, 10-12-year-old-children, and college students were compared under conditions in which some of the distracters in the search displays predicted the location of the target and other distracters did not. More specifically, the percent of distracters that predicted the location of the target varied across three conditions (100%, 67%, and 33%). Previous research had indicated that children are impacted more than adults when the percent of predictive distracters is relatively low. However, that research included new displays as well as repeated displays as participants were implicitly learning the association between the predictive distracters and the target. This re-evaluation did not introduce new display until a separate test phase. Results suggested that all three age groups demonstrated significant and comparable contextual cueing effects across all three signal-to-noise ratio conditions. Hence, children appear to possess the general ability to extract and remember information associated with spatial regularities in the presence of considerable spatial noise. In addition, contextual cueing effects were linked to improvements in search efficiency for all groups in this study, providing another degree of similarity across variations in age.



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