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Nina Hanning, Saurabh Dhawan, Donatas Jonikaitis, Heiner Deubel, Martin Szinte; Maintenance of saccade goals boosts working-memory. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):539. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.12.539.
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Although saccade processing, visuospatial attention and visual working-memory (WM) are interdependent aspects of visual cognition, the interactions between all three have rarely been directly investigated. By combining a change detection task with a delayed saccade task, we were able to examine their separate influences on visual WM. Participants fixated centrally while memorizing two peripherally presented radial frequency patterns. Shortly afterwards, the position of one of the patterns was cued. In two blocked conditions participants had to encode this cue to later make a saccade either toward that position (“saccade toward’’ condition) or away to a different location (“saccade away” condition). After a variable delay, two saccade response items appeared, one at the previously cued location and another at a random new location. In the “saccade toward” condition, subjects were required to saccade to the previously cued location, while in the “saccade away” condition they had to look to the new item. Subjects then returned to fixation and WM performance was probed with a change detection task for one of the memorized radial frequency patterns. We found a selective improvement in WM for objects at locations cued to be looked at, compared to uncued locations. In the “saccade away” condition we obtained no differences, neither between cued and uncued locations, nor between looked at and not looked at locations. Additionally, in 25% of both conditions trials, subjects were only cued (without saccade response items) and remained at fixation. Here we found that planning and maintaining saccade goals was sufficient to boost WM performance - even without the actual execution of a saccade. Our results suggest that the maintenance of the saccade goal and the associated attentional deployment (but not saccade execution or visual cueing by the saccade target) improves the fidelity of WM representations maintained at the goal location.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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