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Rebecca Goldstein, W. Joseph Delaune III, Melissa Beck; How Task Irrelevant Contents of VWM and LTM affect Attentional Guidance and Disengagement. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):864. doi: 10.1167/17.10.864.
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Task irrelevant information in visual working memory (VWM) may affect attention guidance and disengagement. The contents of VWM may capture attention during visual search with a long-term memory (LTM; Gunseli, Olivers, & Meeter, 2016) or VWM template (van Moorselaar, Theeuwes, & Olivers, 2014). In the current study, participants held a colored shape in VWM while searching for a rotated N among upright Ns placed upon colored shapes. One of the distractors was on a colored shape that matched the color, but not the shape, of the VWM item. In E1, a LTM target template was used (the target color was always the same). The color-matched distractor was rarely fixated, demonstrating that the contents of VWM do not necessarily guide attention. However, in E2 and E3, the target color was not known, and the color-matched distractor was fixated more than non-color match distractors. To test the effect of attending to task irrelevant information on attentional guidance and disengagement, the shape of the VWM color-matched distractor was the same on every training trial. Half the test trials included a distractor with the repeated shape, but not the VWM color (no-color-match repeated shape), and the other half were the same as the training trials (color-match repeated shape). The VWM task required memory for color only in E2 and memory for color and shape in E3. The no-color-match repeated shape distractor did not capture attention in E2 or E3. However, in E3, dwell times on the no-color-match repeated shape distractor were shorter compared to a random distractor. When the VWM task required memory for color and shape, the repeated shape was learned and affected attentional disengagement. Task irrelevant VWM contents guide attention when there is not a competing task relevant template, and this can lead to LTM task irrelevant information that affects attentional disengagement.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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