October 2020
Volume 20, Issue 11
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   October 2020
Mechanisms of attentional priority in Working Memory are context-dependent
Author Affiliations
  • Asal Nouri
    Florida Atlantic University
    Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences
    FAU Brain Institute
  • Edward Ester
    Florida Atlantic University
    Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences
    Department of Psychology
    FAU Brain Institute
Journal of Vision October 2020, Vol.20, 1342. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.1342
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      Asal Nouri, Edward Ester; Mechanisms of attentional priority in Working Memory are context-dependent. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):1342. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.1342.

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

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Abstract

Working memory (WM) performance can be enhanced by an informative cue presented during storage. This effect – termed a retrocue benefit – can be used to explore how participants prioritize information stored in memory for behavioral output. Previous research has shown that retrospective cues directing participants to prioritize a subset of items stored in memory (i.e., directed-remembering cues) and cues directing participants to ignore a subset of items stored in memory (i.e., directed-forgetting cues) confer similar benefits on WM performance, but it is unclear whether these cues engage similar selection mechanisms in WM. We tested this possibility by examining how directed-remembering and directed-forgetting retrocues influenced location-specific working memory representations reconstructed from human EEG activity. We recorded EEG while participants performed a retrospectively cued spatial working memory task requiring the maintenance of two locations over a short delay. During cued trials, a fully informative retrospective cue presented midway through the memory delay directed participants to prioritize (50% of valid trials) or ignore (remaining 50% of valid trials) one of the locations stored in memory. Consistent with earlier findings, directed-remembering and directed-forgetting cues both improved memory performance relative to no-cue trials, though the magnitude of this benefit was significantly greater for directed-remembering cues. Next, we examined the effects of directed-remembering and directed-forgetting cues on location-specific working memory representations reconstructed from concurrent EEG recordings. During no-cue trials, the fidelity of location-specific WM representations gradually decreased over the course of the delay period. Directed-remembering and directed-forgetting cues partially reversed this information loss, though the degree of recovery following these cues were substantially lower than the degree of recovery seen after a directed-remembering cue. Thus, directed-remembering and directed-forgetting cues appear to engage similar selection mechanisms within WM, but directed-remembering cues confer larger benefits on WM performance.

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