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Jason Rajsic, Chong Zhao, Geoffrey Woodman; We remember what we looked for more precisely when search is difficult. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):279. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.279.
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In this study, we tested whether the precision of search templates in memory varies between easy and difficult search. On each trial, participants encoded two square stimuli with randomly selected colors, one of which was subsequently cued to be the target of an upcoming visual search. They then searched among 16 colored squares for a target matching the cued target. After this visual search, participants then had to report the precise color of one of the two items they were remembering using a color wheel. This let us compare the precision of memory for templates (the cued color) to non-templates (the non-cued color). In Experiment 1, all fifteen distractors in the visual search array had different colors, and in Experiment 2, all fifteen distractors had the same color. This let us test whether search difficulty affects memory precision for search templates. Correct reaction times (RTs) and error rates were higher in Experiment 1 than in Experiment 2, demonstrating that color heterogeneity indeed increased search difficulty. More importantly, we found that in Experiment 1 participants had a more precise memory of the search template color compared to the non-template color in all search conditions, but in Experiment 2 we found that the precision of template memories did not differ from the non-template memories unless the target appeared in search. These results suggest more difficult visual searches require a more precise template.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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