Contextual cueing is not flexible

Youcai Yang, Mariana V.C. Coutinho, Anthony J. Greene, Deborah E. Hannula

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Target detection is faster when search displays repeat, but properties of the memory representations that give rise to this contextual cueing effect remain uncertain. We adapted the contextual cueing task using an ABA design and recorded the eye movements of healthy young adults to determine whether the memory representations are flexible. Targets moved to a new location during the B phase and then returned to their original locations (second A phase). Contextual cueing effects in the first A phase were reinstated immediately in the second A phase, and response time costs eventually gave way to a repeated search advantage in the B phase, suggesting that two target-context associations were learned. However, this apparent flexibility disappeared when eye tracking data were used to subdivide repeated displays based on B-phase viewing of the original target quadrant. Therefore, memory representations acquired in the contextual cueing task resist change and are not flexible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103164
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Associative memory
  • Contextual cueing
  • Eye tracking
  • Implicit memory
  • Relational memory
  • Representational flexibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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