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Moreno Coco, Antje Nuthmann, Sergio Della Sala; The role of visual attention and high-level object information on short-term visual working memory in a change detection task.. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):61. doi: 10.1167/17.10.61.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Some studies have suggested that visual attention and visual working memory (VWM) rely on shared processes and on the same limited resources (e.g., Chun 2011; Kiyonaga & Enger, 2013). Other studies, instead, have shown that visual attention and VWM might be dissociable and complementary (e.g., Johnson et al., 2008; Tas et al., 2016). In the present study, we investigated whether and to what degree visual attention is a necessary condition for effective encoding in VWM. Moreover, we explored how the memorability of objects depends on their high-level contextual information (e.g., their congruency or location). Twenty-six young participants performed a change detection task on 192 photographs of naturalistic scenes (96 experimental/change trials, 96 fillers/no change trials), while being eye-tracked. Three conditions of target object were considered: Congruency (it became another object), Location (it moved to another location) or Both (it changed and moved). We implemented the change using a gaze contingency paradigm. This was done to ensure that the object was always looked at during the study (or encoding) phase, prior to the retention interval (900 ms). We analyzed accuracy and response time for correct trials. We found that participants were better able to remember a change when Both features changed than when the target object changed Location (second best) or Congruency (worst and slowest). Crucially, the closer participants' eye fixations were to the target object, and the higher the similarity in scan-patterns during encoding and recall, the more likely it was that they correctly detected the change. These results suggest that visual attention is predictive of effective VWM, especially when the object does not change in location. This condition is difficult to discriminate by resorting on extra-foveal strategies only.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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