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Akiko Ikkai, Christopher Ackerman, Susan Courtney; Effects of inter-item configuration on relation working memory. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):358. doi: 10.1167/12.9.358.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Grouping items facilitates working memory performance by reducing memory load. Recent studies reported that within-object binding of multiple features from the same dimension may facilitate encoding and maintenance of visual working memory for item-specific information, such as color or size. Further, perceptual inter-item configuration strongly influences working memory performance for item-specific spatial information. Here, we test whether forming a configuration between two items enhances short-term memory for the relationship between features of those items. To do so, we asked subjects to perform a change detection task based on the relationship between two items while the strength of the inter-item configuration was manipulated. Critically, an absolute feature value for each item varied between sample and test periods. This design ensured that subjects extracted and maintained relation information between items independent of item-specific information. We found that when items were located side-by-side, making the formation of an inter-item configuration easy, subjects’ performances for remembering 1, 2, 3, and 4 relations (2, 4, 6 and 8 items present, respectively) were not different from remembering specific information for 1, 2, 3 and 4 items. When items within a pair were placed offset, thus making it more difficult to form an inter-item configuration, memory performance for relations was significantly worse than for items. Our findings suggest that encoding and maintenance of relation information are strongly influenced by perceptual factors; the presence of a strong inter-item configuration facilitates processing of relation working memory within those pairs of items.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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