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Matthew Peterson, Jason Wong; Spatial memory increases fixations to targets and onsets in a visual search task. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):126. doi: 10.1167/11.11.126.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The study of the relationship between spatial memory and the visual system has led to two disparate theories. Attentional enhancement (Awh et al., 1998, 1999) proposes that attention enhances processing at the location being rehearsed in memory. On the other hand, saccadic inhibition (Belopolsky & Theeuwes, 2009) suggests that saccades are inhibited from being made towards a memorized location. These tasks have not examined how spatial memory affects the programming of involuntary saccades; that is, saccades made to task-irrelevant objects or events. Here, an experiment was conducted that involved memorizing a single location and then performing a visual search task. In some trials, either the search target or the abrupt onset of a new object coincided with the location in memory. Results demonstrated that more saccades were made to onsets and targets when they coincided with the memorized location versus when they were not. This supports the attentional enhancement theory, and these findings are discussed in terms of the interaction between the different components of visual working memory, attention, and eye movement systems.
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