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Anna Heuer, Anna Schubö; Separate and combined effects of action relevance and motivational value on visual working memory. Journal of Vision 2018;18(5):14. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.5.14.
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Visual working memory contents can be selectively weighted according to differences in their task-relevance. In the present study, we examined the influence of two more indirect selection biases established by a concurrent task or learned reward associations: action relevance and motivational value. In three experiments, memory performance was assessed with the same color change detection task. Potential action relevance and motivational value were each determined by a specific feature of the memory items (location or shape, respectively) and manipulated orthogonally. Investigated separately (Experiments 1A and 1B), both selection biases modulated visual working memory. In combination (Experiment 2), action relevance and motivational value still each exerted an influence, but not in a fully independent and additive manner. While action relevance impacted performance irrespective of the reward associated with the items, an effect of motivational value was only observed for action-relevant items. These results support the notion that visual working memory is automatically biased as an inherent part of action planning. More generally, these findings highlight the versatile nature of visual working memory: Contents can be flexibly weighted to reflect differences in their importance, taking into account several sources of information.
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