In this work, we relied on electrophysiological methods to characterize the processing stages that are affected by the presence of regularity in a visual search task. EEG was recorded for 72 participants while they completed a visual search task. Depending on the group, the task contained a consistent-mapping condition, a random-mapping condition, or both consistent and random conditions intermixed (mixed group). Contrary to previous findings, the control groups allowed us to demonstrate that the contextual cueing effect that was observed in the mixed group resulted from interference, not facilitation, to the target selection, response selection, and response execution processes (N2-posterior-contralateral, stimulus-locked lateralized readiness potential [LRP], and response-locked LRP components). When the regularity was highly valid (consistent-only group), the presence of regularity drove performance beyond general practice effects, through facilitation in target selection and response selection (N2-posterior-contralateral and stimulus-locked LRP components). Overall, we identified two distinct effects created by the presence of regularity: a global effect of validity that dictates the degree to which all information is taken into account and a local effect of activating the information on every trial. We conclude that, when considering the influence of regularity on behavior, it is vital to assess how the overall reliability of the incoming information is affected.

You do not currently have access to this content.