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Kelly Shen, Anthony R. McIntosh, Jennifer D. Ryan; A working memory account of refixations in visual search. Journal of Vision 2014;14(14):11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.14.11.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We tested the hypothesis that active exploration of the visual environment is mediated not only by visual attention but also by visual working memory (VWM) by examining performance in both a visual search and a change detection task. Subjects rarely fixated previously examined distracters during visual search, suggesting that they successfully retained those items. Change detection accuracy decreased with increasing set size, suggesting that subjects had a limited VWM capacity. Crucially, performance in the change detection task predicted visual search efficiency: Higher VWM capacity was associated with faster and more accurate responses as well as lower probabilities of refixation. We found no temporal delay for return saccades, suggesting that active vision is primarily mediated by VWM rather than by a separate attentional disengagement mechanism commonly associated with the inhibition-of-return (IOR) effect. Taken together with evidence that visual attention, VWM, and the oculomotor system involve overlapping neural networks, these data suggest that there exists a general capacity for cognitive processing.
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