What is the context of contextual cueing?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People have a powerful ability to extract regularities from noisy environments and to utilize this knowledge to assist in visual search. Extensive research has shown that this ability, termed contextual cueing (CC), is robust and ubiquitous, but it is still unclear what exactly is the context that is being leaned. Researchers have typically focused on how people learn spatial configuration regularities and have hence used simplified, meaningless search stimuli. Here, observers performed visual search tasks using images of real-world objects. The results revealed that, contrary to past findings, the repetition of either arbitrary spatial information or identity information was not sufficient to produce context learning. Instead, learning was found only when both types of information were repeated together. These results were further replicated in hybrid search tasks, in which subjects looked for multiple target templates. Together, these data suggest that CC is more limited than typically assumed, yet this learning is highly robust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1982-1988
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Psychonomic Society, Inc.


  • Contextual Cueing
  • Hybrid search
  • Visual learning
  • Visual search


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