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Effects of visual short-term memory load and attentional demand on the contrast response function

Konstantinou, N; Lavie, N; (2020) Effects of visual short-term memory load and attentional demand on the contrast response function. Journal of Vision , 20 (10) , Article 6. 10.1167/jov.20.10.6. Green open access

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Abstract

Visual short-term memory (VSTM) load leads to impaired perception during maintenance. Here, we fitted the contrast response function to psychometric orientation discrimination data while also varying attention demand during maintenance to investigate: (1) whether VSTM load effects on perception are mediated by a modulation of the contrast threshold, consistent with contrast gain accounts, or by the function asymptote (1 lapse rate), consistent with response gain accounts; and (2) whether the VSTM load effects on the contrast response function depend on the availability of attentional resources. We manipulated VSTM load via the number of items in the memory set in a color and location VSTM task and assessed the contrast response function for an orientation discrimination task during maintenance. Attention demand was varied through spatial cuing of the orientation stimulus. Higher VSTM load increased the estimated contrast threshold of the contrast response function without affecting the estimated asymptote, but only when the discrimination task demanded attention. When attentional demand was reduced (in the cued conditions), the VSTM load effects on the contrast threshold were eliminated. The results suggest that VSTM load reduces perceptual sensitivity by increasing contrast thresholds, suggestive of a contrast gain modulation mechanism, as long as the perceptual discrimination task demands attention. These findings support recent claims that attentional resources are shared between perception and VSTM maintenance processes.

Type: Article
Title: Effects of visual short-term memory load and attentional demand on the contrast response function
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1167/jov.20.10.6
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.10.6
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2020 The Authors. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10112794
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