Foveal vision loss has been shown to reduce efficient visual search guidance due to contextual cueing by incidentally learned contexts. However, previous studies used artificial (T among L-shape) search paradigms that prevent the memorization of a target in a semantically meaningful scene. Here, we investigated contextual cueing in real-life scenes that allow explicit memory of target locations in semantically rich scenes. In contrast to the contextual cueing deficits in artificial scenes, contextual cueing in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) did not differ from age-matched normal-sighted controls. We discuss this in the context of visuospatial working memory demands for which both eye-movement control in the presence of central vision loss and for memory-guided search may compete. Memory-guided search in semantically rich scenes may depend less on visuospatial working memory than search in abstract displays, potentially explaining intact contextual cueing in the former but not the latter. In a practical sense, our findings may indicate that Patients with AMD are less deficient than expected after previous lab experiments. This shows the usefulness of realistic stimuli in experimental clinical research.
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