Uncertainty and predictiveness determine attention to cues during human associative learning

Beesley, T. and Nguyen, K.P. and Pearson, D. and Le Pelley, M.E. (2015) Uncertainty and predictiveness determine attention to cues during human associative learning. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68 (11). pp. 2175-2199. ISSN 1747-0218

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Prior research has suggested that attention is determined by exploiting what is known about the most valid predictors of outcomes and exploring those stimuli that are associated with the greatest degree of uncertainty about subsequent events. Previous studies of human contingency learning have revealed evidence for one or other of these processes, but differences in the designs and procedures of these studies make it difficult to pinpoint the crucial determinant of whether attentional exploitation or exploration will dominate. Here we present two studies in which we systematically manipulated both the predictiveness of cues and uncertainty regarding the outcomes with which they were associated. This allowed us to demonstrate, for the first time, evidence of both attentional exploration and exploitation within the same experiment. Moreover, while the effect of predictiveness persisted to influence the rate of novel learning about the same cues in a second stage, the effect of uncertainty did not. This suggests that attentional exploration is more sensitive to a change of context than is exploitation. The pattern of data is simulated with a hybrid attentional model.

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Journal Article
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The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
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cited By 5
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06 Oct 2017 19:38
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 05:03