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Ayala Allon, Roy Luria; Filtering ability in visual working memory cannot be improved by temporal and spatial task cues. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):75. doi: 10.1167/15.12.75.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous research argued that filtering efficiency (i.e., the ability to ignore task irrelevant items) might explain individual differences in Visual Working Memory (VWM) capacity, such that low-capacity individuals demonstrate poor filtering efficiency relative to high-capacity individuals. Here, we investigated if low-capacity individuals can compensate for their poor filtering ability by providing a spatial cue, indicating the distractors’ positions or a temporal cue, indicating when a filtering trial occurs. Participants performed the change-detection task while ERPs were recorded, with either two targets, four targets, or two targets and two distractors (the filtering condition). In Experiment 1, participants had to memorize the orientation of red bars while ignoring blue bars, and were cued in advance whether the upcoming trial was a filtering trial or a targets-only trial, allowing participants ample time to prepare towards a filtering trial. In Experiment 2, we provided spatial cues signaling the location of the distractors by presenting empty rectangles at constant locations used as placeholders only for distractors, thus the spatial positions of the distractors (but not the targets) were known in advance. In Experiment 3, we provided both a spatial and a temporal cue. Namely, a filtering trial was cued by an arrow cue pointing towards the same target quadrant, keeping the distractor quadrant constant. We used the CDA (a waveform of the event-related potential that reflects the number of items encoded and maintained in VWM) to monitor changes in filtering efficiency. In all three experiments we found that temporal cuing, spatial cuing and both temporal and spatial cuing did not affect the filtering efficiency. These findings suggest that temporal and spatial cues did not help compensate for poor filtering ability, suggesting that filtering ability is an unchangeable cognitive attribute.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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