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    Visual working memory load disrupts the space-based attentional guidance of target selection

    Berggren, Nick and Eimer, Martin (2018) Visual working memory load disrupts the space-based attentional guidance of target selection. British Journal of Psychology , ISSN 0007-1269.

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    During visual search, the selection of target objects is guided by stored representations of target-defining features (attentional templates). It is commonly believed that such templates are maintained in visual working memory (WM), but empirical evidence for this assumption remains inconclusive. Here, we tested whether retaining non-spatial object features (shapes) in WM interferes with attentional target selection processes in a concurrent search task that required spatial templates for target locations. Participants memorised one shape (low WM load) or four shapes (high WM load) in a sample display during a retention period. On some trials, they matched them to a subsequent memory test display. On other trials, a search display including two lateral bars in the upper or lower visual field was presented instead, and participants reported the orientation of target bars that were defined by their location (e.g,, upper left or lower right). To assess the efficiency of attentional control under low and high WM load, EEG was recorded and the N2pc was measured as a marker of attentional target selection. Target N2pc components were strongly delayed when concurrent WM load was high, indicating that holding multiple object shapes in WM competes with the simultaneous retention of spatial attentional templates for target locations. These observations provide new electrophysiological evidence that such templates are maintained in WM, and also challenges suggestions that spatial and non-spatial content are represented in separate independent visual WM stores.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the article, which has been published in final form at the link above. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Martin Eimer
    Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2018 13:30
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:42


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