September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Effects of working memory load in visual search in development
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • María Quirós-Godoy
    Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Elena Perez-Hernandez
    Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Beatriz Gil-Gómez de Liaño
    Universidad Complutense de Madrid-CTB-UPM
    Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  This work was supported by the Research Grant Project PSI2015-69358-R (MINECO/FEDER), given to Beatriz Gil-Gómez de Liaño, and the Research Grant FPI-UAM 2016 (UAM, Spain) given to María Quirós-Godoy. The authors are grateful to Alborada, Los Ángeles, and Corazón Inmaculado Schools (Madrid, Spain).
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2399. doi:
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      María Quirós-Godoy, Elena Perez-Hernandez, Beatriz Gil-Gómez de Liaño; Effects of working memory load in visual search in development. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2399.

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

  • Supplements

Relevant theories in VS consider WM processes key to understand how humans search in visual tasks. But there are still inconsistent results when loading WM within a dual-task paradigm where an observer must concurrently perform a VS task. However, all these results are based on adults’ studies. From our knowledge, there are no such studies in development where these cognitive capacities are still growing. Understanding how WM load can modulate VS in development could give us more clues about the role of WM in VS. This is the objective of the present study. We tested 119 children between 5-12 years old and 32 young adults in a dual-task in which observers had to maintain several real-world images in two high/low WM-load conditions while performing a concurrent VS task (looking for a given real-world image target among several real-world images-distractors). Results on WM show better performance as age increases. However, performance is high even for the youngest children (70% in the most difficult high-load condition, and over 80% for the rest). WM load also impairs selective attention as age decreases: Younger observers spend more time deciding whether the VS target is present/absent under high-WM loads. As age increases, this effect disappears, replicating previous studies with adults. Results on general VS measures replicate those found in other similar studies in development. For young adults, attentional control is developed enough to concurrently perform WM and VS tasks. For younger children, it is not. Although there are differences in WM performance among ages, the performance is very high even for the younger observers. Probably attentional control, rather than WM capacity per-se, could be fundamental to explain these WM-selective attention interactions in VS.


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