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Two distinct mechanisms of selection in working memory: Additive last-item and retro-cue benefits


Niklaus, Marcel; Singmann, Henrik; Oberauer, Klaus (2018). Two distinct mechanisms of selection in working memory: Additive last-item and retro-cue benefits. Cognition, 183:282-302.

Abstract

In working memory research, individual items are sometimes said to be in the "focus of attention". According to one view, this occurs for the last item in a sequentially presented list (last-item benefit). According to a second view, this occurs when items are externally cued during the retention interval (retro-cue benefit). We investigated both phenomena at the same time to determine whether both result from the same cognitive mechanisms. If that were the case, retro-cue benefits should be reduced when the retro-cue is directed to the item that already benefits from being presented last. We measured speed-accuracy-tradeoff functions with the response-deadline paradigm to measure retrieval dynamics in a short-term recognition task. Across three experiments, we found that retro-cues benefited the last item and other items to the same extent. The additivity of the last-item benefit and the retro-cue benefit points towards the co-existence of at least two distinct forms of attentional prioritization in working memory.

Abstract

In working memory research, individual items are sometimes said to be in the "focus of attention". According to one view, this occurs for the last item in a sequentially presented list (last-item benefit). According to a second view, this occurs when items are externally cued during the retention interval (retro-cue benefit). We investigated both phenomena at the same time to determine whether both result from the same cognitive mechanisms. If that were the case, retro-cue benefits should be reduced when the retro-cue is directed to the item that already benefits from being presented last. We measured speed-accuracy-tradeoff functions with the response-deadline paradigm to measure retrieval dynamics in a short-term recognition task. Across three experiments, we found that retro-cues benefited the last item and other items to the same extent. The additivity of the last-item benefit and the retro-cue benefit points towards the co-existence of at least two distinct forms of attentional prioritization in working memory.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:11 December 2018
Deposited On:17 Dec 2018 16:05
Last Modified:17 Dec 2018 16:06
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0010-0277
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.11.015
PubMed ID:30551034

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