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Benjamin Peters, Benjamin Rahm, Jochen Kaiser, Christoph Bledowski; Differential trajectories of memory quality and guessing across sequential reports from working memory. Journal of Vision 2019;19(7):3. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.7.3.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Working memory enables the storage of few items for a short period of time. Previous research has shown that items in working memory cannot be accessed equally well, indicating that they are held in at least two different states with different capacity limitations. However, it is unclear whether differences between states are due to limitations of the number of items that can be stored, or the quality with which items are stored. We employed a sequential whole-report procedure where participants reported the remembered orientation of each of two or four encoded Gabor patches. In addition, they rated their memory confidence prior to each report. Participants performed 600 trials per condition, allowing us to obtain reliable subjective ratings and estimates of precision, guessing, and misreport using a mixture model, separately for each sequential report. Different measures of memory quality consistently showed discontinuous trajectories across reports with a steep drop from the first to the second remembered item but only slight decreases thereafter. In contrast, both reported and modeled guessing changed continuously across reports. Our results support the notion of two states in working memory and show that they are distinguished by memory quality rather than quantity.
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