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Anna Vaskevich, Roy Luria; Testing the role of filtering efficiency in determining individual differences in working-memory capacity. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):78. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.12.78.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous research suggests that visual working memory (WM) capacity is closely connected to filtering ability, so that high-capacity individuals are more efficient at filtering out irrelevant information and representing only the relevant items in the limited WM storage space. The interesting prediction is that low capacity individuals should remember task irrelevant information better than high capacity individuals. In Experiment 1 we used a visual search paradigm, and tested participants' memory for the task irrelevant distractors (pictures of real objects). Indeed, low-capacity individuals remembered better the task irrelevant distractors from the visual search task. Importantly, high-capacity individuals were faster to respond on target-present trials during the visual search, leading us to test in Experiment 2 whether exposure time to distractors underlies the negative correlation between visual WM capacity and memory for distractors found in Experiment 1. To do so, we used a modified visual search task in which there was no need to scan distractors and the exposure time of the display was kept constant. Crucially, keeping the display time constant insured that the time in which distractors can be scanned is constant across subjects. This time high capacity individuals remembered better the distractors. Our results suggest that because high-capacity individuals scan faster they spend less time on irrelevant information which facilitates filtering. Counter-intuitively, it seems that when possible, high-capacity individuals hold less information in visual WM than low-capacity individuals.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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