The long and the short of priming in visual search

W. Kruijne, M. Meeter

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Memory affects visual search, as is particularly evident from findings that when target features are repeated from one trial to the next, selection is faster. Two views have emerged on the nature of the memory representations and mechanisms that cause these intertrial priming effects: independent feature weighting versus episodic retrieval of previous trials. Previous research has attempted to disentangle these views focusing on short term effects. Here, we illustrate that the episodic retrieval models make the unique prediction of long-term priming: biasing one target type will result in priming of this target type for a much longer time, well after the bias has disappeared. We demonstrate that such long-term priming is indeed found for the visual feature of color, but only in conjunction search and not in singleton search. Two follow-up experiments showed that it was the kind of search (conjunction versus singleton) and not the difficulty, that determined whether long-term priming occurred. Long term priming persisted unaltered for at least 200 trials, and could not be explained as the result of explicit strategy. We propose that episodic memory may affect search more consistently than previously thought, and that the mechanisms for intertrial priming may be qualitatively different for singleton and conjunction search.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1558-1573
JournalAttention, Perception & Psychophysics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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