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Varied-mapping conjunction search: Evidence for rule-based learning

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For more content, see Multisensory Research and Seeing and Perceiving.

Five experiments were carried out to examine whether top-down processes can aid search, even when targets and distractors are variably mapped. Experiments 1a and 1b determined that effortless VM search can be obtained in Contrast Polarity X Orientation and Color X Orientation conjunction search when one feature dimension remains consistently mapped across blocks. Experiment 2 showed that efficient VM search is possible when both dimensions are variably mapped. In Experiment 3, efficient VM search was found when target–distractor reversals occurred on a trial-wise basis. Experiments 4 and 5 found that VM search deteriorates when target identity is not known prior to display onset. These studies demonstrate the role of top-down mechanisms in the development of efficient VM search and present several challenges to strength-theoretic views on the mechanisms underlying automaticity.


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