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Publication Detail
Dissociable roles of different types of working memory load in visual detection.
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.
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