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    The number of expected targets modulates access to working memory: a new unified account of lag-1 sparing and distractor intrusions

    Zivony, Alon and Eimer, Martin (2021) The number of expected targets modulates access to working memory: a new unified account of lag-1 sparing and distractor intrusions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance , ISSN 0096-1523. (In Press)

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    In rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) tasks, failures of attentional selectivity are frequently observed when a single target is followed by a potentially reportable distractor (distractor intrusions). However, in tasks with two targets, accuracy for both targets is typically high when they are presented in immediate succession (lag-1 sparing). To account for this apparent contradiction, we tested whether expectations about the number of targets affects the number of items encoded in working memory (WM). Coloured target digits were embedded among grey letters and digits. The first target was followed either by a grey digit, or a second target (another coloured digit). To manipulate expectations, the ratio of one-target and two-targets trials (75%-25% or vice versa) was varied between blocks. Participants were much more likely to report seeing two targets when two targets were expected. Analogous results were obtained in an additional experiment where two successive coloured digits appeared on all trials, and participants were instructed to either report both or only the first digit. ERP markers of attentional allocation (N2pc) and WM storage processes (CDA) were larger when two targets were expected, regardless of the actual number of targets. These results show that the number of expected targets modulates the activation of sensory representations during attentional episodes, which affects the probability that they are subsequently encoded in WM. These findings suggest that a single mechanism can account both for lag-1 sparing and distractor intrusions in RSVP tasks. They also provide new evidence for strategic top-down control over WM encoding. Keywords: distractor intrusions, lag-1 sparing, RSVP, temporal selection, working memory


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association 2021. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at the DOI cited above.
    School: School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Martin Eimer
    Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2021 09:51
    Last Modified: 04 Jul 2022 12:45


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