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Andrew Hollingworth, Michi Matsukura, Steven J. Luck; Visual Working Memory Influences the Speed and Accuracy of Simple Saccadic Eye Movements. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):550. doi: 10.1167/10.7.550.
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Visual working memory exerts top-down control over the allocation attention, typically by biasing attention toward visual objects that share features with those currently maintained in memory. In the present study, we examined the top-down influence of VWM on the dynamics of simple saccadic eye movements, which are traditionally thought to be generated automatically on the basis of low-level stimulus events. Participants held a color in VWM as they executed a saccade to an abruptly appearing colored disk, which either appeared alone or in the presence of a distractor disk. Even when the target appeared alone, the execution of a saccade to the target was faster and more accurate when the target's color matched the color currently held in VWM. This implies that the color of the target disk was compared with VWM prior to saccade execution, and that a match influenced the efficiency of the saccade. This effect of VWM is striking given that the target was an abrupt luminance onset in an otherwise empty field. Even stronger effects of VWM were observed when a single distractor was presented simultaneously with the target. In particular, the presence of a distractor led to large impairments in saccade timing and accuracy when the distractor matched memory but the target did not, and much smaller impairments when the target matched memory but the distractor did not. This interaction held in a global effect paradigm, with saccade landing position biased toward the object that matched memory. It was also observed in a remote distractor paradigm, with a matching distractor capturing gaze on a significant proportion of trials and, in the absence of overt capture, slowing execution of the primary saccade. These findings indicate that VWM influences gaze control under conditions in which eye movements are typically thought to be stimulus driven.
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