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Stacey Parrott, Mark Huntington, Marcia Grabowecky, Satoru Suzuki; Touching and tracing improve working memory for location and orientation. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):1109. doi: 10.1167/14.10.1109.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Growing evidence suggests that performing an action can enhance our perception of events related to that action (Schutz-Bosbach & Prinz, 2007). Here we show that working memory for location and orientation is enhanced by appropriate action. In the spatial working-memory task, participants viewed (for 3.5s) an array of four dots to remember their locations. In the orientation working-memory task, participants viewed an array of four oriented lines (each presented within an L-shaped frame to reduce grouping and to simulate a line graph) to remember their orientations. Participants either simply inspected the array (the visual-only condition), or touched the four dots or traced the oriented lines (the action condition). Following a 1s blank interval participants saw either an identical array or a changed array in which the location of one of the dots changed (in the spatial working-memory task) or the orientation of one of the lines changed (in the orientation working-memory task), and responded "change" or "no change." The spatial and orientation working-memory tasks were blocked, and within each task the visual-only and action conditions were blocked. Action improved the change/no-change response accuracy in both the spatial and orientation working-memory tasks. To make sure that these improvements were not due to non-specific effects of action such as increased arousal or increased task engagement, we repeated the orientation working-memory task except that participants simply touched (rather than traced) the four oriented lines. If action facilitates working memory by providing stimulus-specific information, simply touching the lines should not improve orientation working-memory because, although touching visual items provides location information, it does not provide orientation information. We confirmed this hypothesis. These results suggest that task-appropriate actions, touching dots for encoding locations and tracing lines for encoding orientations, improve working memory in a task-dependent manner.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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