Poster F38, Tuesday, March 27, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Neural Mechanisms Underlying Cognitive Control over Attentional Capture by Working Memory Content
Peter S. Whitehead1, Mathilde M. Ooi1, Tobias Egner1, Marty G. Woldorff1; 1Duke University
The contents of working memory (WM) have been found to guide visual attention towards items with matching features. Moreover, visual search is faster when a target spatially overlaps with a feature of an item currently held in WM (validly cued) and is slower when the target and WM feature occur at spatially divergent locations (invalidly cued). However, recent behavioral studies have indicated that attentional capture by WM content can be modulated by cognitive control: when WM cues are reliably helpful to visual search (predictably valid), capture is enhanced, but when reliably detrimental (predictably invalid), capture is attenuated. Here we investigated the neural underpinnings of cognitive control over WM biases on attentional selection, focusing on the N2pc ERP component as a neural signature of reactive target enhancement as a function of the predictability of WM-based distraction (N=27). We manipulated predictability of validity by grouping trials into unpredictive blocks (50% valid/invalid) and predictive blocks (100% valid, 100% invalid). Behavioral results confirmed that predictability enhanced the benefit of valid trials and reduced the cost of invalid trials. Comparison of the ERPs evoked by target elements in the search array as a function of validity and predictability showed that the N2pc amplitude was reduced in the predictable conditions. This reduction interacted with validity, with greater N2pc reduction for invalid than valid trials. N2pc reduction for predictably invalid trials suggests top-down attenuation of attentional capture by WM relies on proactive cognitive control reducing the need to reactively suppress WM-matching distractor features in our visual world.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory