September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
The Role of Working Memory in Selective Attention
Author Affiliations
  • Melissa Trevino
    Psychology, University of Houston
  • Bruno Breitmeyer
    Psychology, University of Houston
  • Jane Jacob
    Psychology, University of Westminster
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 671. doi:
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      Melissa Trevino, Bruno Breitmeyer, Jane Jacob; The Role of Working Memory in Selective Attention. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):671.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Previous studies have shown that when working memory (WM) has reached its processing limit due to maintaining a substantial amount of information, its cognitive resources are depleted for subsequent cognitive functions, such as for selective attention (SA) (de Fockert et al., 2001; Downing, 2000). Using a dual-task paradigm combining a change-detection task and a flanker task, we investigated how WM maintenance affects SA across and within spatial and feature-based information categories (processing feature information such as the color of an item in WM as well as in SA would be considered within-category; storing the spatial location of an item in WM while attending to the color of the item in SA would be considered across-category). Participants ran in eighteen dual-task conditions that varied by WM load (1, 3, 5 load), and information categories of the WM task (colors, shapes, location) and of the flanker task (colors, shapes). Participants also ran in nine corresponding WM-only conditions and two flanker-only conditions. Interference effects (the reaction time difference between incongruent and congruent flanker-target pair trials) were computed for the flanker task. We expected larger interference effects for the within-category conditions than across-category conditions, as stimuli from the same category would be depleting cognitive resources that are available for that particular category, whereas stimuli that are from different categories will access separate cognitive resource stores. Results reveal larger interference effects for the within-category conditions compared to across-category conditions for only color stimuli rather than for shape stimuli. Across the three loads and the three types of WM tasks, larger interference effects were seen in the color-flanker task compared to the shape-flanker task. Thus, maintaining information in WM subsequently impairs SA but the poor performance of SA varies depending on the information category of the task.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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