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Yun Ding, Marnix Naber, Chris Paffen, Stefan Van der Stigchel; How the content of visual working memory regulates the priority for access to visual awareness for memoranda with multiple features. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):783. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.783.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous studies suggest that storing an item in visual working memory (VWM) prioritizes access to visual awareness for this item. It is currently unclear 1) which features of memoranda affect the priority to access visual awareness and 2) how these features interact. To explore this, we conducted a series of experiments in which we intermixed a delayed match to sample memory task to manipulate VWM content and a breaking Continuous Flash Suppression (b-CFS) task to measure prioritization for visual awareness. In the experiments, observers were required to memorize either the color (Expt. 1), the color and shape (Expt. 2) or the shape (Expt. 3) of an item for the memory task. In the CFS period, observers had to indicate the location of a suppressed target which could match the memorized item in color, shape, both color and shape, or none of the features. Our results show that color-matching but not shape-matching targets broke suppression faster when only the color (Expt. 1) or both color and shape (Expt. 2) were to be remembered. When only shape but not color was relevant for the memory task (Expt. 3), color still largely drove the shortening of suppression duration of the target, with a minor influence of shape. Interestingly, a target that matched one feature of the memory probe (either the color or shape) in Expt. 3, was released from suppression faster than a target matching neither the color or the shape. Our results imply that: 1) VWM affects the priority for different features to a variable degree; 2) color dominates prioritization; 3) Even irrelevant (incidental) features can be prioritized.
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