December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
Temporal expectations facilitate multitasking during visual working memory
Author Affiliations
  • Daniela Gresch
    University of Oxford
  • Sage E.P. Boettcher
    University of Oxford
  • Freek van Ede
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Anna C. Nobre
    University of Oxford
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 3517. doi:
  • Views
  • Share
  • Tools
    • Alerts
      This feature is available to authenticated users only.
      Sign In or Create an Account ×
    • Get Citation

      Daniela Gresch, Sage E.P. Boettcher, Freek van Ede, Anna C. Nobre; Temporal expectations facilitate multitasking during visual working memory. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):3517.

      Download citation file:

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

  • Supplements

Temporal regularities help us anticipate future states of the environment and thereby guide attention towards relevant external and internal events. Typically, the effects of temporal expectations have been studied within single-task contexts. However, this fails to capture how temporal regularities guide attention within common ‘multi-task’ scenarios where various tasks are juggled within the same temporal window, such as performing one task while maintaining working-memory representations for another. Recently, we investigated temporal expectations in such a multi-task setting by manipulating the expected onset of a simple visual discrimination task (i.e., perceptual task) embedded within the retention period of a visual working-memory task (Gresch, Boettcher, van Ede, & Nobre, 2021). We found that temporal expectations regarding the intervening perceptual task facilitated later working-memory performance. Here, we took the inverse approach, asking whether having a predictable temporal structure of a working-memory task may also affect performance of an intervening perceptual task during the period of anticipation. Memory was probed following a short (1250 ms) or long (2500 ms) retention interval, the duration of which was either predictable or unpredictable. We find that temporal expectations regarding the later working-memory task had significant consequences on the performance of the intervening perceptual task that occurred during the retention interval. Responses to the perceptual task were faster when the requirement for memory-guided behaviour was expected early and slowed when expected late, as compared to when this timing was unpredictable. Critically, this was true even though the temporal expectation manipulation did not modify the timing of the perceptual task. Thus, we show that temporal expectations help us ‘juggle’ multiple tasks by (1) shielding working-memory representations from interference, as well as by (2) modulating the performance of intervening tasks that occur while maintaining information in anticipation of upcoming memory-guided behaviour.


This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

Sign in or purchase a subscription to access this content. ×

You must be signed into an individual account to use this feature.