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Andrew Clement, Adrian Ng, Alison Chasteen, Jay Pratt; Conceptual Cues Facilitate Encoding in Visual Working Memory. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):1258. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.1258.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A growing body of evidence suggests that viewing words with implicit spatial associations can facilitate the processing of information at compatible spatial locations. Like other types of spatial cues, these conceptual cues are thought to produce spatial shifts of attention. If this is the case, viewing words with implicit spatial associations should also facilitate the encoding and retrieval of information from visual working memory. To test whether this is the case, participants viewed a word with an upward (e.g., God, hat), downward (e.g., Devil, boots), or neutral (e.g., table, chair) spatial association, followed by an array of four colored squares. The colors of the squares could be selected from either a set of seven discriminable colors or a continuous color wheel. After a brief retention interval, a probe square was presented at the location of one of the four squares, and participants were asked to identify whether the color of this square was the same as the square that was originally at that location. To ensure that participants processed the central word, they were only asked to complete the visual working memory task when a non-furniture word was presented. Participants were faster at identifying the color of the probe square when it was presented at a compatible spatial location, suggesting that conceptual cues can influence the encoding of information in visual working memory. However, participants were also faster at identifying the color of the probe square when it was presented at a horizontal spatial location, suggesting that processing the central word may have involved lateral shifts of attention. Together, these findings indicate that viewing words with implicit spatial associations can facilitate the encoding of information in visual working memory, and provide further evidence that these conceptual cues may produce spatial shifts of attention.
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