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David De Vito, Mark Fenske, Naseem Al-Aidroos; Contralateral delay activity predicts the affective consequences of ignoring items in visual working memory. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):713. doi: 10.1167/16.12.713.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
One consequence of ignoring visual objects in our environment is that we subsequently like those objects less; a stimulus-devaluation effect linked to attentional inhibition. While such 'inhibitory devaluation' has been well studied using perceptual tasks, little is known about the affective consequences of inhibition at later stages of representation. In the present experiment we combined behavioral and electrophysiological measures to examine inhibitory devaluation of items maintained in visual working memory (VWM). We specifically used the contralateral delay activity (CDA) event-related potential to investigate the immediate consequences of ignoring objects stored in VWM and whether changes in CDA amplitude are associated with the subsequent devaluation of ignored objects. Each trial of the experiment consisted of two tasks: a VWM test and a stimulus affective rating. Participants memorized three colored squares located on one side of a lateralized memory array. During the retention interval, a retro-cue was presented specifying with 100% validity that their memory of the cued item would be tested, and that the two un-cued items could be ignored. We found significant devaluation of un-cued stimuli relative to cued stimuli. Moreover, individual differences in the magnitude of devaluation were correlated with post retro-cue CDA amplitude (r=-.60), and with an earlier negative-going potential that resembled the latency and scalp distribution of an attention-related N2pc component time-locked to the retro-cue (r=-.59). However, differences in stimulus devaluation did not correlate with components prior to the retro-cue. Together, these electrophysiological results converge with our recent demonstration that the affective consequences of inhibition are the same for items represented solely in visual working memory as they are for sensory stimuli appearing in the external environment. More broadly, these results add to the growing literature comparing internal and external attentional mechanisms by demonstrating that attentional inhibition leads to the devaluation of distracting stimuli within both domains.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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