Poster D51, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Retroactive attention can protect multiple working memory contents from perceptual interference. Evidence by event-related EEG parameters in a retro-cuing paradigm
Anna Magdalena Barth1, Edmund Wascher2, Daniel Schneider3; 1Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors #1, 2, 3
To enable goal-directed behavior in changing environmental conditions it is important to keep working memory updated and to avoid distraction by irrelevant information. Focusing attention within mnemonic representations is typically studied using retroactive cues (retro-cues). So far, neither the neural correlates of protection from interference nor the amount of information that can be protected by selective attention are well understood. We addressed this issue by running EEG during a visual working memory task based on retro-cues. Participants had to memorize the angle of three differently colored bars followed by one of four retro-cue types. Two selective retro-cues indicated a subset of the memory array as being relevant for report (one or two of three bars). Additionally, two types of neutral cues were used: one cue repeated the color and position of all three bars; the other one was completely non-informative. A distractor display was presented during the retention interval in half of the experimental blocks. A distractor-induced performance decrease was only observed in neutral retro-cue trials whereas the presentation of selective retro-cues attenuated the distractor effects. Event-related potentials revealed a negative slow wave component over posterior electrodes reflecting the amount of items held in working memory after the retro-cue presentation. Moreover, a P3-like component after distractor onset in neutral retro-cue conditions indicated interference with the information held in working memory. This leads to the conclusion that selective retro-cues facilitate to an optimization of cognitive resources for preventing visual distractors from getting access to working memory.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory