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Katherine C Moen, Melissa R Beck; I won’t forget that: Partial forgetting in visual working memory is not due to binding errors.. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):82b. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.82b.
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It is still unknown if and when cues to forget information in visual working memory (VWM) will lead to complete loss versus partial loss of information. Furthermore, instances of partial forgetting of to-be-forgotten (TBF) stimuli may be due to poor object-location binding or to loss of object details. The goal of the current study was to determine if partial forgetting occurs in VWM even when object-location binding errors are ruled out, and if memory detail (encoding time) and stability (cue onset) impact explicit and implicit memory for to-be forgotten information. Participants encoded four real-world objects for 1,200ms or 2,000ms (encoding time) followed by a fixation cross for 50ms or 250ms (cue onset) before a cue appeared, indicating the to-be-remembered (TBR) side of the display. Three types of changes occurred: (1) a new stimulus replaced a TBR stimulus (new change), (2) the TBR stimuli changed locations (location change), or (3) a stimulus from the TBF side of the display replaced a TBR stimulus (TBF change). Replicating previous research, participants had higher accuracy for TBR information on cue trials relative to no cue trials, suggesting that some forgetting occurred. However, participants had significantly lower accuracy on TBF change trials relative to new change trials, indicating that participants were not completely forgetting the TBF information. Additionally, location change accuracy was equivalent to new change accuracy, suggesting that partial forgetting of TBF items was not due to object-location binding errors. This partial loss of TBF information occurred similarly for both encoding times and cue onsets. Furthermore, eye movement data revealed implicit memory for TBR information when participants encoded stimuli for 2,000ms. Overall, these results suggest that forgetting in VWM does not lead to complete loss of TBF information.
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