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Contextual Cueing

  • Yuhong V. JiangEmail author
  • Caitlin A. Sisk
Part of the Neuromethods book series


Contextual cueing refers to the facilitation of visual search by the occasional repetition of a visual context. In standard spatial contextual cueing, a visual search target appears in a consistent location within a repeated array of objects. Search time is faster on repeated displays relative to novel displays, even in participants who do not explicitly recognize the repeated displays. Contextual cueing exemplifies the importance of statistical learning and the resulting memory in guiding attention. Because it involves implicit, relational learning, it has been instrumental in understanding brain functions, cognitive changes across the life span, as well as effects of various neurological, neurodevelopmental, and psychiatric conditions. To stimulate further behavioral and brain research on memory-guided attention and to facilitate comparisons across studies, here we provide a methodological guide on the experimental paradigm of contextual cueing and review key findings. We identify factors that influence the strength of the effect and underscore potential pitfalls in experimental design, data analysis, and interpretation.


Contextual cueing Visual attention Statistical learning Visual search Implicit learning Spatial cognition Medial temporal lobe Striatum 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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