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Chunyue Teng, Bradley R. Postle; Spatial modulation of feature-based interaction between working memory and perception. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):778. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.778.
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Content in working memory (WM) has been shown to interact with attentional selection (e.g., Olivers, Meijer, Theeuwes, 2006) and alter perceptual processing (Teng & Kravitz, 2019) in a stimulus-specific way, potentially through the shared recruitment of sensory cortices for perception and WM maintenance (sensory recruitment model; D’Esposito & Postle, 2015; Postle, 2015; Serences, 2016). Here, we directly tested the spatial specificity of this interaction with a psychophysical task. We predicted that if a feature maintained in WM is retinotopically organized, its influence on perception would be spatially specific. Alternatively, if WM activates feature channels globally similar to feature-based attention (Ester, Serences, & Awh, 2009), its influence would not be constrained by location. In a dual-task paradigm, observers first viewed simultaneous presentation of two oriented sample gratings, one on each side of central fixation, with a central cue indicating which one to remember. Next, a distinct discrimination grating appeared and subjects reported its orientation (left/right). Finally, they recalled the orientation of the cued sample. The discrimination stimuli either matched or mismatched the location and/or the orientation of the cued sample. The contrast of the discrimination gratings was manipulated to derive the contrast threshold to reliably perceive the orientation of the interleaved stimuli. We found that an orientation match between WM and discrimination stimuli boosted the perceived contrast of the interleaved stimuli only when their locations also matched. The contrast threshold was significantly lower in the orientation-match/location-match condition than the others. Furthermore, on location-nonmatch trials, recall precision declined, suggesting that shifting attention away from an item’s location might disrupt context-binding in visuo-object WM. These results suggest that the representation of location context in WM draws on the same resources used for the perception and discrimination of visual objects.
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