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Naseem Al-Aidroos, Jay Pratt; Does attentional capture guide the contents of visual short-term memory?. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):174. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/9.8.174.
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Visual short-term memory allows information within a visual scene to be encoded as an internal representation and actively maintained over time. Because this memory system is capacity limited, however, only a subset of the objects within a visual scene can be encoded in this way. In the present research, we investigated whether the objects that are selected for memory are determined solely volitionally, or whether stimulus-driven attentional capture can bias this selection. Subjects were presented an array of visual objects and asked to remember a subset of them (i.e., their volitional goal). In addition, an irrelevant distractor was used to randomly cue locations within this array (i.e., a stimulus-driven signal). Memory performance was biased by the task-irrelevant distractor, suggesting that attentional capture does guide the contents of visual short-term memory. This finding is discussed within the context of the contingency of attentional capture on top-down control settings, and in terms of the time course of the interaction between top-down volitional attention and bottom-up attentional capture.
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