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Xiqian Lu, Yangfan Zhao, Rende Shui, Mowei Shen, Zaifeng Gao; Object-based Attention Underlies the Storage of Event Files in Working Memory. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):865. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.10.865.
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Processing events containing action-related information is vital to our daily activities such as action planning and social interaction. It has been suggested that during event process action-related information are bound with other visual elements (e.g., colors, locations) as event files. To form coherent experience of outer world and guide our social behavior, we have to retain event files in working memory (WM). In the current study we explored whether keeping event files in WM consumes more attention than keeping the constituent elements. Considering that object-based attention underlies the rehearsal of static feature bindings in WM, we hypothesized that object-based attention plays a key role in retaining event files in WM. As the most frequently seen event in daily life is biological motion (BM), the movements of animate entities, we therefore took BM related event files as the tested stimuli in our study (BM-color event files in Experiments 1 and 3; BM-location event files in Experiment 2). In separated blocks we required participants to memorize BM, colors (locations), or BM-color (locations) event file. Critically, we added a Duncan object-feature report task, which consumed object-based attention, into the maintenance phase of WM. We predicted that the added secondary task led to a larger impairment for BM event file than for the constituent elements. In congruent with this prediction, Experiments 1 and 2 consistently revealed a selective impairment to the BM event files. Moreover, this selective impairment was not due to the unbalanced number of elements between the event file condition and the single element conditions (Experiment 3). Taken together, these results suggest that object-based attention plays a pivotal role in maintaining event files in WM.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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