Repetition of the same spatial configurations of a search display implicitly facilitates performance of a visual-search task when the target location in the display is fixed. The improvement of performance is referred to as contextual cueing. We examined whether the association process between target location and surrounding configuration of distractors occurs during active search or at the instant the target is found. To dissociate these two processes, we changed the surrounding configuration of the distractors at the instant of target detection so that the layout where the participants had searched for the target and the layout presented at the instant of target detection differed. The results demonstrated that both processes are responsible for the contextual-cueing effect, but they differ in the accuracies of attentional guidance and their time courses, suggesting that two different types of attentional-guidance processes may be involved in contextual cueing.
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