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J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 1989 Oct;15(4):358-65.

Attentional priming and visual search in pigeons.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912.


Advance information about a target's identity improved visual search efficiency in pigeons. Experiments 1 and 2 compared information supplied by visual cues with information supplied by trial sequences. Reaction times (RTs) were lower when visual cues signaled a single target rather than two. RTs were (Experiment 1) or accuracy improved (Experiment 2) when a sequence of trials presented a single target rather than a mixture of 2. Experiments 3, 4, and 5 considered the selectivity of visual priming by introducing probe trials that reversed the usual cue-target relationship. RT was higher following such miscues than following the usual 1- or 2- target cuing relationships (Experiment 3); the miscuing effect persisted over variations in the target's concealment (Experiments 4 and 5), but did not occur when the target was presented alone (Experiment 4). The findings indicate that priming modifies an attentional mechanism and suggest that this effect accounts for search images.

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