Understanding priming of color-singleton search: Roles of attention at encoding and "retrieval"

Brian A. Goolsby, Satoru Suzuki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


We investigated how the performance of a color-singleton search (the search for a single odd-colored item among homogeneously colored distractors) left a persistent memory trace (lasting up to six intervening trials or ∼17 sec) that facilitated a subsequent color-singleton search (when the same target-distractor color combination was repeated). Specifically, we investigated the roles of attention in the encoding and "retrieval" stages of this priming effect by intermixing trials in which the target location was precued by an onset cue. We found that the encoding of both target and distractor colors was automatic in that whether or not observers had to use color in locating the target in the preceding trial did not substantially affect priming. However, priming required that the color-sing eton item be attended in the preceding trial. Once a color singleton display was encoded, our results indicated that priming facilitated the direction of attention to the color-singleton target on a subsequent trial. In short, when a color-singleton item happened to be a critical item to be attended in one situation, another color-singleton item defined by the same color combination tended to attract attention in subsequent encounters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-944
Number of pages16
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)


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