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Melonie Williams, Sang Hong, Geoffrey Woodman; Forgetting in Visual Working Memory. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):1249. doi: 10.1167/11.11.1249.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent research has shown that a directed forgetting cue can benefit visual working memory task performance nearly as much as a cue that indicates which items will be tested. What neural mechanisms underlie this benefit and how does it aid the memory representations that are retained? We addressed these questions in the present study by recording event-related potentials (ERPs) and using a recall paradigm to measure the nature of the retained memory representations. Our ERP findings show that when observers were given a cue to forget some information that they focused neural mechanisms of maintenance on the remaining information stored in visual working memory. By testing visual working memory with a recall procedure we show that this focused maintenance results in higher fidelity representations of the remaining items following a directed forgetting cue. Thus, the present findings show that cues to forget benefit the remaining information in visual working memory by focusing maintenance processes which then fundamentally improves the quality of those retained representations.
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