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The effect of visual salience on memory-based choices


Pooresmaeili, Arezoo; Bach, Dominik R; Dolan, Raymond J (2014). The effect of visual salience on memory-based choices. Journal of Neurophysiology, 111(3):481-487.

Abstract

Deciding whether a stimulus is the "same" or "different" from a previous presented one involves integrating among the incoming sensory information, working memory, and perceptual decision making. Visual selective attention plays a crucial role in selecting the relevant information that informs a subsequent course of action. Previous studies have mainly investigated the role of visual attention during the encoding phase of working memory tasks. In this study, we investigate whether manipulation of bottom-up attention by changing stimulus visual salience impacts on later stages of memory-based decisions. In two experiments, we asked subjects to identify whether a stimulus had either the same or a different feature to that of a memorized sample. We manipulated visual salience of the test stimuli by varying a task-irrelevant feature contrast. Subjects chose a visually salient item more often when they looked for matching features and less often so when they looked for a nonmatch. This pattern of results indicates that salient items are more likely to be identified as a match. We interpret the findings in terms of capacity limitations at a comparison stage where a visually salient item is more likely to exhaust resources leading it to be prematurely parsed as a match.

Abstract

Deciding whether a stimulus is the "same" or "different" from a previous presented one involves integrating among the incoming sensory information, working memory, and perceptual decision making. Visual selective attention plays a crucial role in selecting the relevant information that informs a subsequent course of action. Previous studies have mainly investigated the role of visual attention during the encoding phase of working memory tasks. In this study, we investigate whether manipulation of bottom-up attention by changing stimulus visual salience impacts on later stages of memory-based decisions. In two experiments, we asked subjects to identify whether a stimulus had either the same or a different feature to that of a memorized sample. We manipulated visual salience of the test stimuli by varying a task-irrelevant feature contrast. Subjects chose a visually salient item more often when they looked for matching features and less often so when they looked for a nonmatch. This pattern of results indicates that salient items are more likely to be identified as a match. We interpret the findings in terms of capacity limitations at a comparison stage where a visually salient item is more likely to exhaust resources leading it to be prematurely parsed as a match.

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5 citations in Web of Science®
5 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:February 2014
Deposited On:16 Jan 2015 15:35
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:48
Publisher:American Physiological Society
ISSN:0022-3077
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00068.2013
PubMed ID:24198327

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