Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in Animal Learning & Behavior 27 (4), 461-471 (1999). Copyright 1999 Psychonomic Society, Inc. Used by permission.


Repeated exposure to a single target type (sequential priming) during visual search for multiple cryptic targets commonly improves performance on subsequent presentations of that target. It appears to be an attentional phenomenon, a component of the searching image effect. It has been argued, however, that if searching image is an attentional process, sequential priming should also interfere with performance on subsequent nonprimed targets, and such interference has never been unequivocally demonstrated. In blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) searching in an operant apparatus for targets derived from images of cryptic moths, detection performance was strongly facilitated in the course of a sequential prime but was relatively unaffected by sequences of mixed target types. Detection accuracy in subsequent probe trials was enhanced by priming with targets of the same type, whereas accuracy on cryptic probes following priming with a more conspicuous target was significantly degraded. The results support an attentional interpretation of searching image.