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Melonie Williams, Geoffrey Woodman; Discarding Information from Visual Working Memory. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):1357. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.1357.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent research using change-detection tasks has shown that a directed-forgetting cue, indicating that a subset of the information stored in memory can be forgotten, significantly benefits the other information stored in visual working memory. How do these directed-forgetting cues aid the memory representations that are retained? We addressed this question using two approaches. In one approach we used a recall paradigm to measure the nature of the retained memory representations. In the other approach we used event-related potentials (ERPs) to more directly measure what was actively maintained in visual working memory. Our results demonstrate that a directed-forgetting cue leads to higher fidelity representations of the remaining items and a lower probability of dropping these representations from memory. We also show that to-be-forgotten items are expelled from visual working memory following the cue allowing maintenance mechanisms to be focused on only the items that remain in visual working memory. Thus, the present findings show that cues to forget benefit the remaining information in visual working memory by fundamentally improving their quality relative to conditions in which just as many items are encoded but no cue is provided.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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