Implicit short- and long-term memory direct our gaze in visual search

Wouter Kruijne*, Martijn Meeter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Visual attention is strongly affected by the past: both by recent experience and by long-term regularities in the environment that are encoded in and retrieved from memory. In visual search, intertrial repetition of targets causes speeded response times (short-term priming). Similarly, targets that are presented more often than others may facilitate search, even long after it is no longer present (longterm priming). In this study, we investigate whether such short-term priming and long-term priming depend on dissociable mechanisms. By recording eye movements while participants searched for one of two conjunction targets, we explored at what stages of visual search different forms of priming manifest. We found both long- and short- term priming effects. Long-term priming persisted long after the bias was present, and was again found even in participants who were unaware of a color bias. Short- and long-term priming affected the same stage of the task; both biased eye movements towards targets with the primed color, already starting with the first eye movement. Neither form of priming affected the response phase of a trial, but response repetition did. The results strongly suggest that both long- and short-term memory can implicitly modulate feedforward visual processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-773
Number of pages13
JournalAttention, Perception & Psychophysics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2016


  • Eye movements
  • Implicit memory
  • Long-term memory
  • Priming
  • Visual search


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