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Steven J. Luck, Geoffrey F. Woodman, Brandon K. Schmidt, Edward K. Vogel, Shaun P. Vecera; The effects of attentional capture on visual working memory. Journal of Vision 2002;2(7):272. doi: 10.1167/2.7.272.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Under some conditions, visual transients will automatically capture an observer's attention. This has been demonstrated primarily in experiments that emphasize rapid perception. For example, reaction times are faster for a target stimulus that is preceded by a brief cue stimulus than for a target that is not cued, even if the cue does not provide any information about the location of the target. The present experiments were designed to explore the effects of nonpredictive visual transients on the transfer of perceptual representations into working memory. In one set of experiments, we assessed whether objects accompanied by transients are more likely to be stored in working memory than objects that are not accompanied by transients. Under a variety of conditions, we found that transients significantly increased the probability that an existing perceptual representation would be transferred into working memory. In a second set of experiments, we assessed whether the effects of a transient would interact with the perceptual organization of the sensory input. Under a variety of conditions, we found that working memory performance was increased for objects that were perceptually grouped with an object that was accompanied by a transient. That is, when one element of a perceptual group was selected for transfer into working memory, other parts of the same group were also automatically transferred. In both sets of experiments, the transients were effective even if they occurred shortly after the to-be-remembered information, indicating that transients can automatically lead to the transfer of existing perceptual representations into working memory as well as influencing the formation of new perceptual representations.
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