September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
The Effects of Prior Stimulus Familiarity on Visual Working Memory Maintenance and Retrieval
Author Affiliations
  • Weiwei Zhang
    Dept. of Psychology, UC Riverside
  • WeiZhen Xie
    Dept. of Psychology, UC Riverside
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 883. doi:
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      Weiwei Zhang, WeiZhen Xie; The Effects of Prior Stimulus Familiarity on Visual Working Memory Maintenance and Retrieval. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):883. doi:

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

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We previously demonstrated that stimulus familiarity could speed up Visual Working Memory (VWM) consolidation, which can subsequently manifest as an increase in the amount of information that can be retained in VWM if VWM consolidation is incomplete. The present study further assesses whether this familiarity-related advantage in VWM processing can also manifest to VWM maintenance and retrieval. Experiment 1 manipulated retention intervals of a change detection task for Pokémon characters. Consistent with some previous findings, a larger number of representations was retained in VWM for familiar Pokémon characters than unfamiliar Pokémon characters. However, this effect only manifested at a short (1.5 second) delay interval, and disappeared at a longer (5.5 second) delay interval. The absence of the familiarity effect at the longer delay was unlikely due to decreased task performance, since the familiarity effect remained when task performance was interrupted by masking stimuli presented during the short delay interval. These findings suggest that the improvement in VWM storage by prior familiarity is robust but short-lived in that it can survive interference, but not time. Experiment 2 tested whether prior familiarity also improved VWM retrieval using Event-Related Potentials elicited by the test array of the change detection task for Pokémon. As compared to unfamiliar Pokémon, memory representations for familiar Pokémon elicited larger P1, indicating that familiar information in VWM can be accessed more efficiently. Together, these findings illustrated various sources for the facilitation of VWM by prior stimulus familiarity and highlighted the pivotal roles of VWM processes in the interactions between prior knowledge in long-term memory and moment-by-moment processing of retained information in working memory.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018


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