August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Attending and Inhibiting Stimuli That Match the Contents of Visual Working Memory: Evidence from Eye Movements and Pupillometry
Author Affiliations
  • Sebastiaan Mathôt
    Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, LPC UMR 7290, Marseille, France
  • Elle Van Heusden
    Dept. of Experimental Psychology, Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Stefan Van der Stigchel
    Dept. of Experimental Psychology, Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 355. doi:10.1167/16.12.355
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      Sebastiaan Mathôt, Elle Van Heusden, Stefan Van der Stigchel; Attending and Inhibiting Stimuli That Match the Contents of Visual Working Memory: Evidence from Eye Movements and Pupillometry. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):355. doi: 10.1167/16.12.355.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

When you keep a red apple in working memory, your attention is usually—but not always—attracted by other red objects. The conditions under which the contents of visual working memory guide visual attention are still unclear. We conducted two experiments to test whether attention is indeed biased toward memory-match stimuli, and, if so, whether this bias is transient or sustained. We used a new pupillometric technique, which exploits that the pupil is larger when you covertly attend to dark, compared to bright, stimuli. This allowed us to test whether and when attention was biased toward memory-match stimuli, by placing them either on a dark or a bright background, while measuring pupil size over time. In addition, we looked at gaze errors, that is, whether and when participants looked at memory-match stimuli (despite instructions to maintain central fixation). We found that the eyes were captured by memory-match stimuli early on in the trial. However, the pupillary data suggested that there was no sustained attention bias toward memory-match stimuli later in time; rather, attention appeared to be biased away from them. Together, our results suggest that: (1) memory-match stimuli automatically capture attention; but (2) they do so only briefly; and (3) they may even become inhibited later in time.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016

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