August 2023
Volume 23, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2023
The effect of masking on visual working memory pointer-system
Author Affiliations
  • Shani Friedman
    Tel-Aviv University
  • Roy Luria
    Intelligent Hearing Systems Corp
Journal of Vision August 2023, Vol.23, 5323. doi:
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      Shani Friedman, Roy Luria; The effect of masking on visual working memory pointer-system. Journal of Vision 2023;23(9):5323.

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

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Visual working memory (VWM) is responsible for storing and updating online representations. To access its’ representations VWM relies on a pointer-system: a unique mapping between the object in the environment and the corresponding representation in memory. VWM can access and modify a representation using an "updating process", but when the pointer is invalidated, VWM can replace the no longer relevant representation using a "resetting process". Past studies used the Contralateral Delay Activity (CDA) to differentiate between updating and resetting by using the drop in the CDA amplitude as a marker for resetting and the slow increase in the CDA amplitude as a marker for updating. The purpose of the current study was to examine whether masking the object for a short time, invalidates the object's pointer and triggers resetting. In experiment 1 subjects observed a single polygon-half that appeared for 500ms, disappeared for 100ms and then either reappeared, reappeared with another polygon-half or was replaced by a full polygon. The last condition is known to trigger resetting. Importantly, in half of the trials, an occluder appeared masking the change in the object status (occlusion condition). The results showed evidence for resetting in all three conditions only in the occlusion condition, suggesting that masking triggered resetting. In experiment 2, we used the same occlusion condition, but in half of the trials, the occluder appeared behind the object, meaning that it was not masking it. The results show a larger drop when the object was masked. These results suggest that interrupting the continuity of the object invalidates the pointer and triggers resetting.


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