, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 100-106
Date: 21 Sep 2012

Implicit learning of ignored visual context

Abstract

Humans process a visual display more efficiently when they encounter it for a second time, showing learning of the display. This study tests whether implicit learning of complex visual contexts depends on attention. Subjects searched for a white target among black and white distractors. When the locations of the target and the attended set (white distractors) were repeated, search speed was enhanced, but when the locations of the target and the ignored set (black distractors) were repeated, search speed was unaffected. This suggests that the expression of learning depends on attention. However, during the transfer test, when the previously ignored set now was attended, it immediately facilitated performance. In contrast, when the previously attended set now was ignored, it no longer enhanced search speed. We conclude that the expression of visual implicit learning depends on attention but that latent learning of repeated information does not.

This study was supported by the Milton Fund from Harvard University and by NIH MH071788.