2017
Article
Veksler, B. Z., Boyd, R., Myers, C. W., Gunzelmann, G., Neth, H., & Gray, W. D.

Visual working memory resources are best characterized as dynamic, quantifiable mnemonic traces

Veksler, B. Z., Boyd, R., Myers, C. W., Gunzelmann, G., Neth, H., & Gray, W. D. (2017).  Visual working memory resources are best characterized as dynamic, quantifiable mnemonic traces.  Topics in Cognitive Science, 9, 83–101.  doi: 10.1111/tops.12248

Visual working memory (VWM) is a construct hypothesized to store a small amount of accurate perceptual information that can be brought to bear on a task.  Much research concerns the construct’s capacity and the precision of the information stored.  Two prominent theories of VWM representation have emerged: slot-based and continuous-resource mechanisms.  Prior modeling work suggests that a continuous resource that varies over trials with variable capacity and a potential to make localization errors best accounts for the empirical data.  Questions remain regarding the variability in VWM capacity and precision.  Using a novel eye-tracking paradigm, we demonstrate that VWM facilitates search and exhibits effects of fixation frequency and recency, particularly for prior targets.  Whereas slot-based memory models cannot account for the human data, a novel continuous-resource model does capture the behavioral and eye tracking data, and identifies the relevant resource as item activation.


Figure:  An example of a stimulus in this experiment. 
               The labels of the circles were invisible until the cursor hovered over it.

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