Previous and current action targets held in working memory determine repulsive and attractive serial dependence

Poster Presentation 43.415: Monday, May 22, 2023, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm, Pavilion
Session: Visual Working Memory: Serial dependence

Cora Fischer1 (), Sebastian Fohs1, Jochen Kaiser1, Christoph Bledowski1; 1Institute of Medical Psychology, Goethe University Frankfurt

Serial dependence refers to a phenomenon where a current representation is biased by a previous representation. Current representations can be biased either in an attractive or a repulsive manner, i.e., they are inaccurately reported to be more similar or dissimilar to the previous representation, respectively. Here we tested whether the status of a representation as a previous or a potential future target for an action determines the occurrence of attractive or repulsive serial dependence. Participants had to memorize orientations of two gratings. One of them was cued for later report, i.e., it was further maintained as a potential target in working memory. The uncued stimulus could either be removed from working memory immediately or serve as a target for a secondary task before its removal. Subsequently, participants had to memorize the orientation of a third grating. When subjects were asked to report the third orientation, it was repulsed only by the previously encoded orientation that was still maintained as a potential target in working memory. At the same time, the third orientation was attracted towards the just removed orientation, but only if it had served as a target for the secondary task. These results support previous claims that repulsion serves as a mechanism to separate representations that are concurrently maintained in working memory, whereas attraction supports the integration of past and current representations. Our results additionally reveal that separation and integration operate only between representations that serve or have served as targets for an action.