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Poster D8

A Timeline of the Stimulus Memorability Benefit in Visual Working Memory

Poster Session D - Monday, April 15, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Greer Gillies1 (, Jonathan S. Cant1,2, Keisuke Fukuda1,3; 1University of Toronto, 2University of Toronto, Scarborough, 3University of Toronto, Mississauga

Some visual stimuli are more memorable than others. Previously, we found that memorable stimuli enjoy a dual benefit within visual working memory (VWM). They are stored more efficiently in VWM and are also more competitive at attracting VWM resources than forgettable stimuli. In this study, we examined the hypothesis that this competitive advantage of memorable stimuli reflects preferential allocation of spatial attention toward memorable stimuli. To test this, we had participants perform a VWM task where they remembered an array composed of both memorable and forgettable faces. Critically, on 20% of trials, letters were superimposed on the faces at various stimulus onset asynchronies. When this happened, participants had to report all the letters they saw instead of faces. This enabled us to examine where spatial attention was allocated at different times during viewing. Here, participants did not report more letters superimposed on memorable faces than on forgettable faces until 450ms after the face onset, suggesting that spatial attention is not immediately biased toward memorable stimuli. Next, we examined when the efficiency and competitive benefits emerge in relation to the differential allocation of spatial attention. Specifically, we had participants perform the same VWM task while manipulating the stimulus duration. Here, the efficiency benefit emerged before the attention effect, but the competitive benefit emerged after it. We speculate that this may be due to memory-guided attention where memorable stimuli are efficiently encoded into VWM, and because they are in VWM, they attract attention, thus garnering an additional processing boost (the competitive benefit).

Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory


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