The effects of perceptual cues on visual statistical learning: Evidence from children and adults

Yingying Yang, Qiongya Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In visual statistical learning, one can extract the statistical regularities of target locations in an incidental manner. The current study examined the impact of salient perceptual cues on one type of visual statistical learning: probability cueing effects. In a visual search task, the target appeared more often in one quadrant (i.e., rich) than the other quadrants (i.e., sparse). Then, the screen was rotated by 90° and the targets appeared in the four quadrants with equal probabilities. In Experiment 1 without the addition of salient perceptual cues, adults showed significant probability cueing effects, but did not show a persistent attentional bias in the testing phase. In Experiments 2, 3, and 4, salient perceptual cues were added to the rich or the sparse quadrants. Adults showed significant probability cueing effects but no persistent attentional bias. In Experiment 5, younger children, older children, and adults showed significant probability cueing effects. All three groups also showed an attentional gradient phenomenon: reaction times were slower when the targets were in the sparse quadrant diagonal to, rather than adjacent to, the rich quadrant. Furthermore, both children groups showed a persistent egocentric attentional bias in the testing phase. These findings indicated that salient perceptual cues enhanced but did not reduce probability cueing effects, children and adults shared similar basic attentional mechanisms in probability cueing effects, and children and adults showed differences in the persistence of attentional bias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1645-1664
Number of pages20
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


  • Children
  • Perceptual cues
  • Probability cuing
  • Saliency
  • Visual statistical learning


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