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Contextual modulation of attention in human category learning

George, David N.; Kruschke, John K.


John K. Kruschke


In a category-learning experiment, we assessed whether participants were able to selectively attend to different components of a compound stimulus in two distinct contexts. The participants were presented with stimulus compounds for which they had to learn categorical labels. Each compound comprised one feature from each of two dimensions, and on different trials the compound was presented in two contexts, X and Y. In Context X, Dimension A was relevant to the solution of the categorization task and Dimension B was irrelevant, whereas in Context Y, Dimension A was irrelevant and Dimension B was relevant. The results of transfer tests to novel stimuli suggested that people learned to attend selectively to Dimension A in Context X and Dimension B in Context Y. These findings contribute to the growing body of evidence that people can learn to selectively attend to particular dimensions of stimuli dependent on the context in which the stimuli are presented. Furthermore, the findings demonstrate that context-dependent changes in attention transfer to other categorization tasks involving novel stimuli. © Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2011.


George, D. N., & Kruschke, J. K. (2012). Contextual modulation of attention in human category learning. Learning and Behavior, 40(4), 530-541.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2012
Online Publication Date Apr 15, 2012
Publication Date 2012-12
Journal Learning & behavior
Print ISSN 1543-4494
Electronic ISSN 1543-4508
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Issue 4
Pages 530-541
Keywords Experimental and Cognitive Psychology; Cognitive Neuroscience; Behavioral Neuroscience
Public URL
Publisher URL
PMID 22528785