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Lisa Blalock, Benjamin Clegg; Training Improves Stability of VWM Representations. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):1269. doi: 10.1167/11.11.1269.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In order to prevent visual representations in visual working memory (VWM) from being overwritten by subsequent visual information, some process must stabilize the activated representations so that they are less susceptible to interference. This process is called short-term consolidation (Jolicoeur & Dell'Acqua, 1998; Vogel et al., 2006). The current study examined this process, specifically if training facilitated the stabilization of visual representations in working memory. Two experiments compared performance between trained and novel stimuli using the backward masking paradigm. In the backward masking paradigm, visual masks are presented at varying intervals following a memory and participants make a same/different judgment when presented with the test array. Additionally, the set size of the visual array was manipulated to examine how the impact of the visual masks varied depending on how many items there were in the array. In Experiment 1, participants trained on a set of random polygons using a four alternative forced choice task. An advantage was found for trained items in accuracy and capacity as well as faster consolidation for trained items. Additionally, there was no interaction between set size and delay for trained items, suggesting that participants were able to consolidate the array as a single unit instead of requiring more time for more items. In Experiment 2, participants trained using a change detection task and no differences were demonstrated between trained and untrained items, including no interaction between set size and delay for either stimulus type, suggesting transfer of change detection training to novel stimuli. Taken together, these results show that (1) long-term visual representations play an early role in VWM by stabilizing visual representations; (2) short-term consolidation is a multidimensional process that involves visual and spatial properties; and (3) training of visual stimuli may transfer to novel stimuli depending on the type of training.
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