August 2023
Volume 23, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2023
Working Memory Precision Under Physical Effort
Author Affiliations
  • Lilian Azer
    University of California, Riverside
  • Weiwei Zhang
    University of California, Riverside
Journal of Vision August 2023, Vol.23, 5134. doi:
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      Lilian Azer, Weiwei Zhang; Working Memory Precision Under Physical Effort. Journal of Vision 2023;23(9):5134.

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

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Physical exertion, high cognitive load, and negative emotional valence (vs. neutral), in isolation, often produce similar neural effects. For example, with increasing physical and cognitive effort and exposure to negative emotional valence, pupil dilation increases, indicating increased arousal. In turn, arousal due to negative emotional valence during a working memory task boosts working memory precision (Xie & Zhang, 2016, 2022). While the three modalities have similar effects on pupil dilation, and thus arousal, it is unclear if physical exertion during a similar working memory task will produce comparable results (i.e., better working memory precision). To address this question the present study examined the impact of engaging in a concurrent effortful physical and cognitive task on working memory quality. Physical effort was manipulated by having participants grip a hand dynamometer at low versus high force (e.g., 5% vs. 45%) of individual strength during the concurrent delayed estimation working memory task. We hypothesized that high arousal will improve working memory precision (Xie & Zhang, 2016) and predicted that high physical exertion will induce high arousal and therefore improve working memory precision. However, our preliminary data suggested that high physical exertion (i.e., high arousal condition) did not boost working memory quality in the same manner as negative emotional valence. One possibility could be that arousal produced by physical exertion and arousal produced by negative emotion induction is not comparable. Therefore, the effect of concurrent physical effort during a working memory task does not mimic the effects of concurrent negative emotion on working memory precision. Follow up studies will further investigate the effect of concurrent physical exertion on working memory precision.


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