No Evidence For Improved Attention Towards Implicit Temporal Regularities

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


In everyday tasks, people pick up and exploit temporal regularities in their environment. To optimize this process, it has been suggested that the attentional system prioritizes information that contains some form of structure. Indeed, Zhao et al. (2013) found that attention was biased towards the location and low-level visual features of shapes that appeared with a regular order but were not relevant for the task at hand. The goal of the current study was to investigate whether this bias also holds for implicit and irrelevant temporal regularities. In two experiments, participants were asked to perform search tasks in which a target appeared in one of four locations. In the first experiment, a sequence of squares was presented in between the search trials in the same four locations. Crucially, in one location, the square appeared with a regular rhythm. In the second experiment, a sequence of colored circles was presented in between the search trials, of which one specific colored circle appeared regularly. We expected that, if attention is automatically biased towards these temporal regularities, reaction times would be faster if the target matches the location or color of the regular stimulus. However, in both experiments, we found no such attentional bias. These results suggest that, although people might keep track of implicit temporal regularities, they do not use this information to guide their attention in the same way as order regularities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24-Oct-2017
Event1st Conference of The Timing Research Forum - Strasbourg, France
Duration: 23-Oct-201725-Oct-2017


Conference1st Conference of The Timing Research Forum

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