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Min-Suk Kang, Hayoung Song; Successful movement inhibition boosts the inhibition of distractors in visual working memory. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):121. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.10.121.
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The common inhibitory control hypothesis posits that the executive control process is involved in inhibiting thoughts and actions. According to the theory, the inhibition of prepotent response should also facilitate the inhibition of competing representations in memory. To test this hypothesis, in Experiment 1, participants remembered three targets that were presented with either one or five distractors. During the retention interval, they performed a stop-signal task in which they countermanded a simple choice response upon an infrequent stop-signal (25%). We found that the stop-signal trials that were successfully inhibited (canceled trials) resulted in higher memory accuracy than the trials in which the response was erroneously committed (non-canceled trials). This result indicates that the successful response inhibition facilitated the inhibition of distractors and, thus, the working memory performance was enhanced due to reduced distractor intrusion. Alternatively, however, it is possible that the poor memory performance in the non-canceled trials could have occurred because participants adjusted their behaviors after committing errors in the non-canceled trials. We ruled out the post-error processing hypothesis in Experiment 2. Participants remembered three targets that were presented with either one or five distractors like Experiment 1. During the retention interval, they performed a simple shooting task in which they were required to shoot a moving target by pressing a button upon an infrequent shooting-signal (25%). We found that the memory accuracy was comparable whether the shoot hit or missed the target. This result indicates that the post-error processing cannot explain poor memory performance that accompanied non-canceled trials of Experiment 1. Taken together, these results indicate that the common inhibitory mechanism activated by the inhibition of distractors in visual working memory is further boosted by successful response inhibition.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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