Cued Attention and Learning of Spatial Context in Children


The contextual cueing effect refers to a robust phenomenon in which repeated visual context guides attention to relevant information by constraining search (Brady & Chun, 2007; Chun & Jiang, 1998). The effect is measured by an object search task in which a target is located within repeated or non-repeated visual contexts. Shorter response times for the repeated configurations indicate that contextual information has facilitated search. Though the effect is robust among adult participants, recent attempts testing the effect with children yielded mixed results (e.g., Vaidya, Huger, Howard & Howard, 2007). Because contextual cuing could play a critical role in cognitive development, resolving this issue is important. The present study used child friendly paradigms to investigate whether children are sensitive to repeated contextual information. The study suggests that children as young as 3 and half year olds successfully show the contextual cuing effect when visual search tasks are age appropriate.

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