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Attentional demand influences strategies for encoding into visual working memory

Mayer, Jutta S., Bittner, Robert A., Linden, David Edmund Johannes and Nikolić, Danko 2007. Attentional demand influences strategies for encoding into visual working memory. Advances in Cognitive Psychology 3 (4) , pp. 429-448. 10.2478/v10053-008-0007-2

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Visual selective attention and visual working memory (WM) share the same capacity-limited resources. We investigated whether and how participants can cope with a task in which these 2 mechanisms interfere. The task required participants to scan an array of 9 objects in order to select the target locations and to encode the items presented at these locations into WM (1 to 5 shapes). Determination of the target locations required either few attentional resources ("pop-out condition") or an attention-demanding serial search ("non pop-out condition"). Participants were able to achieve high memory performance in all stimulation conditions but, in the non pop-out conditions, this came at the cost of additional processing time. Both empirical evidence and subjective reports suggest that participants invested the additional time in memorizing the locations of all target objects prior to the encoding of their shapes into WM. Thus, they seemed to be unable to interleave the steps of search with those of encoding. We propose that the memory for target locations substitutes for perceptual pop-out and thus may be the key component that allows for flexible coping with the common processing limitations of visual WM and attention. The findings have implications for understanding how we cope with real-life situations in which the demands on visual attention and WM occur simultaneously.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords: attention; working memory; interference; encoding strategies
Publisher: Versita
ISSN: 1895-1171
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:06

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