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Prioritization in visual working memory enhances memory retention and speeds up processing in a comparison task.

08:00 EDT 23rd March 2020 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Prioritization in visual working memory enhances memory retention and speeds up processing in a comparison task."

Visual working memory retains visual information for controlling behavior. We studied how information in visual working memory is prioritized for being used. In two experiments, participants memorized the stimuli of a memory display for a brief interval, followed by a retro-cue. The retro-cue was either valid, indicating which stimulus from the memory display was relevant (i.e., had priority) in the upcoming comparison with a probe, or was neutral (uninformative). Next, the probe was presented, terminated by a mask, and participants reported whether it matched a stimulus from the memory display. The presentation duration of the probe was varied. Assessing performance as a function of presentation duration allowed to disentangle two components of working memory: memory retention and the speed of processing the probe for the memory-based comparison. Compared with neutral retro-cues, valid retro-cues improved retention and at the same time accelerated processing of the probe. These findings show for the first time that prioritization in working memory impacts on distinct mechanisms: retrospectively, it supports memory retention, and prospectively, it enhances perceptual processing in upcoming comparison tasks.

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Name: Cognitive processing
ISSN: 1612-4790
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