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Jason Wong, Matthew Peterson; Identifying a target during visual search affects the contents of working memory. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):665. doi: 10.1167/7.9.665.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Object identification is important for visual search, yet search remains paradoxically efficient when visual object working memory (VOWM) is full (Woodman, Vogel & Luck, 2001). However, the previous study used stimuli that were visually dissimilar, such as colored blocks for the memory task and Landolt-C's for the search task. The present study uses similar or dissimilar stimuli (complex faces and houses) across all tasks. Participants held two objects in memory while searching for the presence of a single target in a search display consisting of four or eight objects. The memory and search task could either involve the same stimuli class (similar condition) or different stimuli classes (dissimilar condition). For example, in the similar condition, if the memory set consisted of faces, then the search set would also consist of faces, whereas in the dissimilar condition, if the memory set consisted of houses, then the search task would consist of faces. Results mirror Woodman, et al. and show that search efficiency is not affected by a working memory load and is not dependent on stimuli similarity. However, memory accuracy was affected when a target was correctly detected in the similar condition versus the dissimilar condition. This demonstrates that target identification during search will interfere with memory for objects that are similar with the search task. This effect suggests that VOWM is involved in identifying search targets, but is not involved in rejecting distractors.
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