Long-term priming of visual search prevails against the passage of time and counteracting instructions

W. Kruijne*, M. Meeter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Studies on intertrial priming have shown that in visual search experiments, the preceding trial automatically affects search performance: facilitating it when the target features repeat and giving rise to switch costs when they change-so-called (short-term) intertrial priming. These effects also occur at longer time scales: When 1 of 2 possible target colors is more frequent during an experiment block, this results in a prolonged and persistent facilitation for the color that was biased, long after the frequency bias is gone-so-called long-term priming. In this study, we explore the robustness of such long-term priming. In Experiment 1, participants were fully informed of the bias and instructed to prioritize the other unbiased color. Despite these instructions, long-term priming of the biased color persisted in this block, suggesting that guidance by long-term priming is an implicit effect. In Experiment 2, long-term priming was built up in 1 experimental session and was then assessed in a second session a week later. Long-term priming persisted across this week, emphasizing that long-term priming is truly a phenomenon of long-term memory. The results support the view that priming results from the automatic and implicit retrieval of memory traces of past trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1293-1303
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


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


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