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Jang Jin Kim, Min-Shik Kim, Marvin M. Chun; Predictive spatial working memory content guides visual search. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):128. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/6.6.128.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The visual system can learn invariant spatial configurations that can serve as contextual cues to guide spatial attention (Chun & Jiang, 1998). We examined whether repeatedly presented working memory (WM) arrays can serve as contextual cues. Participants performed visual search while maintaining a WM array presented at the beginning of each trial. In the learning phase, each WM array was paired with a specific target location and the paired presentations were repeated throughout the entire learning session. In the test phase, half of the parings remained constant (old condition), but the other half switched to new, unpaired locations (new condition). If associations between the representations maintained in WM and search target locations are learned and used as contextual cues, search performance should be better in the old condition than in the new condition. In Experiment 1, four color patches were used as WM stimuli and paired with specific target locations in visual search. The results showed that color WM representations in the old condition did not improve search performance. In Experiment 2, four locations were used as WM stimuli and paired with specific target locations in visual search. The results showed that spatial WM representations in the old condition improved search performance. Chance performance in a subsequent recognition test showed the learned associations were implicit. These results indicate that “contextual cueing” can occur even when the predictive context is not concurrently present, and such implicit contextual cueing of attention by WM was specific to spatial WM.
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