Previous human implicit learning studies have mostly investigated implicit associations between two consecutive stimuli or between a stimulus and the subsequent response (e.g., Cleeremans, Destrebecqz, & Boyer, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2(10), 406–416, 1998). In the present study, participants’ response speed was used as a cue to predict an upcoming target feature. We called this new type of cueing, “cueing-by-response” (CBR). We investigated whether CBR could be learned implicitly. Participants performed two tasks: participants quickly responded to a target in the simple detection task and determined the orientation of a new target in the consecutive visual search task. We applied a contingency that the target location in the visual search task was determined by the participant’s response speed in the preceding simple detection task. The results demonstrated that participants learned the contingency without conscious awareness; they searched for the target more efficiently in the visual search task as the experiment progressed. But when the target appeared in a random location, this efficiency disappeared. Moreover, the experimental group exhibited faster response speeds to the target in the visual search task compared with the control groups, which had no contingency. These results suggest that individuals may use the relative speed of their own response as a predictive cue to guide spatial attention toward upcoming target locations, and CBR can be implicitly learned.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)