September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
Using affective ratings to test competing hypotheses about differences in active and accessory states in visual working memory.
Author Affiliations
  • David De Vito
    Department of Psychology, University of Guelph
  • Mark Fenske
    Department of Psychology, University of Guelph
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 687. doi:10.1167/18.10.687
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      David De Vito, Mark Fenske; Using affective ratings to test competing hypotheses about differences in active and accessory states in visual working memory.. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):687. doi: 10.1167/18.10.687.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

The multiple state theory of working memory suggests that representations held in working memory are separated into two states: a currently-relevant active representation and accessory memory items held for future use. While the characteristics and consequences of active versus accessory states have been the subject of several investigations, the exact neurocognitive mechanisms that move representations between the two states remain unclear. Of the two competing hypotheses, one suggests that inhibition is applied to keep a representation in an accessory state, while the other suggests that accessory representations simply receive less top-down cortical amplification than active representations, but are not subjected to inhibition. Here we capitalize on the different affective consequences for stimuli whose memory representations are subjected to inhibition (negative ratings) or active enhancement (positive ratings) to test these competing hypotheses. On each trial participants memorized four items and then were cued to focus on a single item within memory. They then completed either a visual search or an affective evaluation task. Search times were slower when a search distractor matched the colour of the active item but not when it matched the colour of the accessory item, replicating findings of a division in working memory whereby only active items guide attention. Also, accessory items were affectively devalued compared to baseline and active memory items. This finding of devaluation supports the hypothesis that inhibition is used to keep representations in an accessory state, and adds to past findings that similar mechanisms of attention and emotion govern prioritization in working memory and the prioritization of external stimuli.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018

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