September 2011
Volume 11, Issue 11
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2011
Is there a bias toward global information in visual working memory?
Author Affiliations
  • Justin M. Ericson
    Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, USA
  • Melissa R. Beck
    Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, USA
Journal of Vision September 2011, Vol.11, 1292. doi:10.1167/11.11.1292
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      Justin M. Ericson, Melissa R. Beck; Is there a bias toward global information in visual working memory?. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):1292. doi: 10.1167/11.11.1292.

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Abstract

When briefly presented with global and local information, individuals perceive the global information faster, a phenomenon known as the global precedence effect (Navon, 1977). In this study we investigated whether visual working memory (VWM) is also biased toward global information and if binding features to global and local levels occurs more readily than other types of feature binding (e.g., binding features to a serial position). In this experiment, four Navon figures, in which a larger (global) letter is composed of smaller (local) letters, were presented serially. In a blocked design participants were asked to remember global, local, or both letters of the Navon figures and each figures' serial position. At test, participants were to recall a specific letter presented at a given level and serial position. The results did not indicate a strong bias toward global information. Proportion correct when global information was task relevant was not different from proportion correct when local information was task relevant, and when both were task relevant, local errors were not more frequent than global errors. Furthermore, the results suggest that level binding only occurs more frequently than position binding when attention is directed to the global letters. When participants were asked to attend to both local and global information, level errors (reporting a letter at the correct position but incorrect level) occurred more frequently than position errors (reporting a letter at the correct level but incorrect position). In contrast, when only the global information was task relevant, participants made fewer level errors than position errors, and when only local information was task relevant, level and position errors were equally probable. This study suggests that there is a bias toward global information in VWM only when global information, but not local information, is task relevant.

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