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Dissociable roles of different types of working memory load in visual detection

Konstantinou, N; Lavie, N; (2013) Dissociable roles of different types of working memory load in visual detection. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance , 39 (4) pp. 919-924. 10.1037/a0033037. Green open access

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Abstract

We contrasted the effects of different types of working memory (WM) load on detection. Considering the sensory-recruitment hypothesis of visual short-term memory (VSTM) within load theory (e.g., Lavie, 2010) led us to predict that VSTM load would reduce visual-representation capacity, thus leading to reduced detection sensitivity during maintenance, whereas load on WM cognitive control processes would reduce priority-based control, thus leading to enhanced detection sensitivity for a low-priority stimulus. During the retention interval of a WM task, participants performed a visual-search task while also asked to detect a masked stimulus in the periphery. Loading WM cognitive control processes (with the demand to maintain a random digit order [vs. fixed in conditions of low load]) led to enhanced detection sensitivity. In contrast, loading VSTM (with the demand to maintain the color and positions of six squares [vs. one in conditions of low load]) reduced detection sensitivity, an effect comparable with that found for manipulating perceptual load in the search task. The results confirmed our predictions and established a new functional dissociation between the roles of different types of WM load in the fundamental visual perception process of detection.

Type: Article
Title: Dissociable roles of different types of working memory load in visual detection
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/a0033037
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0033037
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s). This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Visual working memory, Executive cognitive control, Selective attention, Perceptual load, Visual detection
UCL classification: 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/1395243
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