The change probability effect: incidental learning, adaptability, and shared visual working memory resources

Amanda E. van Lamsweerde, Louisiana State University, Department of Psychology, 236 Audubon Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.
Melissa R. Beck


Statistical properties in the visual environment can be used to improve performance on visual working memory (VWM) tasks. The current study examined the ability to incidentally learn that a change is more likely to occur to a particular feature dimension (shape, color, or location) and use this information to improve change detection performance for that dimension (the change probability effect). Participants completed a change detection task in which one change type was more probable than others. Change probability effects were found for color and shape changes, but not location changes, and intentional strategies did not improve the effect. Furthermore, the change probability effect developed and adapted to new probability information quickly. Finally, in some conditions, an improvement in change detection performance for a probable change led to an impairment in change detection for improbable changes.