September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Eye Movements Are Required to Process Spatial Configurations in Visual Working Memory
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • J. David Timm
    University of Tübingen
  • Frank Papenmeier
    University of Tübingen
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 202a. doi:
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      J. David Timm, Frank Papenmeier; Eye Movements Are Required to Process Spatial Configurations in Visual Working Memory. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):202a.

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

  • Supplements

[Introduction] Previous research showed that object locations are not memorized independently but in relation to the global spatial configuration formed by the objects. It is possible to subset a global configuration into a task relevant partial one while encoding. With the present experiments, we investigated the flexibility of the memory representation underlying this spatial configuration effect. Thus, we studied the following research question: Is it possible that spatial configurations can be reorganized to a subset of objects by shifting attention to these objects only during encoding or also in visual working memory (VWM)? [Methods] Participants encoded the locations of six objects (first experiment) or twelve objects (second experiment) and performed a location change detection task for one object probed during retrieval. This object was displaced in half of the trials. We cued the side (left/right) of the object probed either during encoding or afterwards (retro-cue), thus allowing for the reorganization of spatial configurations either during encoding or in VWM. During retrieval, either a complete (all objects), a congruent (cued objects), an incongruent (non-cued objects) or no (probed object only) configuration was shown. In a third experiment, we manipulated eye movements and presented a retro-cue only. One group had to fixate the center of screen during a trial while the other group could move their eyes. [Results] The successful reorganization of spatial configurations was indicated by a higher change detection performance for both the complete and the congruent configuration condition as compared with the no configuration condition. We observed a reliable reorganization both when cued during encoding and also under some retro-cue conditions. Importantly, configuration effects disappeared with enforced fixation. [Conclusion] Our findings provide evidence for the reorganization of spatial configurations and indicate the requirement of eye movements for processing spatial configurations in VWM, which is contradictory to previous snapshot hypotheses.

Acknowledgement: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – Project number 357136437 

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