Action planning renders objects in working memory more attentionally salient
Heleen A. Slagter1 (email@example.com), Caterina Trentin1, Chris N.L. Olivers1; 1Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands
A growing body of work suggests that working memory is fundamentally action-oriented. Recent studies, for example, indicate that attention is biased more by visual working memory (VWM) representations that are also the target of an action plan. Using EEG and eye tracking, we investigated how action planning in VWM biases selective attention. Participants (n=36) were presented with a geometric shape for a subsequent VWM test. At test, a probe was presented along with a secondary stimulus. In the action condition, participants had to grip the probe if it matched the memorized shape, while in the control condition, they had to grip the secondary stimulus. Crucially, during the VWM delay, participants engaged in a visual selection task (VST), in which they located a target as fast as possible. The memorized shape could either encircle the target (congruent trials) or a distractor (incongruent trials). Analysis of gaze bias during the VST replicated previous findings: attention was captured more by a VWM-matching stimulus when it was the direct target of an action plan. Moreover, in the action condition, the VWM-matching shape elicited (1) a stronger Ppc, signaling greater attentional saliency, (2) a larger inverse (i.e., positive) SPCN in incongruent trials, possibly signifying increased suppression of the memorized shape when this was a distractor, and (3) a positivity over right prefrontal and left motor regions, suggesting enhanced response inhibition of the action-relevant hand. Overall, these results suggest that action planning renders objects in VWM more salient, supporting the notion of selection-for-action in working memory.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory
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