Different contexts favor different patterns of adaptive learning. A surprising event that in one context would drive rapid belief updating might, in another context, be interpreted as a meaningless outlier. Here, across two experiments, we examined whether participants performing a target judgment task under spatial uncertainty (n=31, n=64) would spontaneously adapt their patterns of predictive gaze according to the informativeness or uninformativeness of surprising events in their current environment. Uninstructed predictive eye movements exhibited a form of metalearning in which event-by-event learning rates were modulated differently by surprise across contexts. Participants also appropriately readjusted their patterns of adaptive learning when the statistics of the environment underwent an unsignaled change. Although significant metalearning was observed in all conditions, performance was consistently superior in contexts in which surprising events reflected meaningful change, potentially reflecting a bias toward interpreting surprise as informative. Overall, our results demonstrate remarkable flexibility in contextually adaptive metalearning.
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Experience-driven recalibration of learning from surprising events