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Lisa Durrance Blalock, Benjamin Clegg; Impact of global vs. local attentional processing on visual working memory organization. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):181. doi: 10.1167/9.8.181.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The concept of global dominance in visual attention argues that when processing visual information, visual attention proceeds in a global to local fashion such that more global aspects of a scene or stimulus are processed prior to more local aspects (Navon, 1977). Similarly, Jiang, Olson, & Chun (2000) provided evidence that information within visual working memory (VWM) is organized in a hierarchical spatial configuration that also proceeds in a global to local fashion. The current experiment examined whether the bias in VWM to organize information in a global spatial configuration is linked to visual attention processes. To examine this, the experiment investigated the impact of performing a global/local attentional task (using Navon figures, e.g., the letter A made out of smaller T's) prior to a VWM task. On an attentional trial, participants were told to either respond to the larger letter (global emphasis) or the smaller letter (local emphasis). Participants completed one attentional trial prior to each VWM trial. In the VWM task, participants made same/different judgments on an array of five colored squares that were presented simultaneously at study. At test, the array varied in four different spatial configuration conditions: one featuring no changes from study (control), one in which a pair of items switched (local change), one in which the same array repeated but in a different location (global change), and one in which a completely novel test stimulus appeared (global and local change). Results indicate a slight disadvantage for completing a local attentional trial prior to the VWM task. The results provide additional support for a global spatial configuration organization in VWM, and suggest that this cannot be modulated by a prior local attentional set.
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