3 years ago

Working memory operates over the same representations as attention

Tiansheng Xia, Lei Mo, Jiushu Xie, Yanyan Ye, Ke Chen

by Ke Chen, Yanyan Ye, Jiushu Xie, Tiansheng Xia, Lei Mo

A recent study observed a working memory (WM) Stroop effect with a magnitude equivalent to that of the classic Stroop effect, indicating that WM operates over the same representations as attention. However, more research is needed to examine this proposal. One unanswered question is whether the WM Stroop effect occurs when the WM item and the perceptual task do not have an overlapping response set. We addressed this question in Experiment 1 by conducting an attentional word-color task and a WM word-color task. The results showed that a WM Stroop effect also occurred in that condition, as a word that only indirectly evoked a color representation could interfere with the color judgement in both the attentional task and WM task. In Experiment 2, we used a classic Simon task and a WM Simon task to examine whether holding visuo-spatial information rather than verbal information in WM could interfere with perceptual judgment as well. We observed a WM Simon effect of equivalent magnitude to that of the classic Simon effect. The well-known stimulus-response compatibility effect also existed in the WM domain. The two experiments together demonstrated that WM operates over the same representations as attention, which sheds new light on the hypothesis that working memory is internally directed attention.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179382

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