Effective distribution of VWM resources does not depend on VWM capacity.

Poster Presentation: Tuesday, May 21, 2024, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm, Banyan Breezeway
Session: Visual Memory: Working memory and behavior, models

Lyric R. Ransom1 (), Yin-ting Lin1, Julie D. Golomb1, Blaire Dube1,2; 1The Ohio State University, 2Memorial University of Newfoundland

Attention serves as a filter to capacity-limited visual working memory (VWM), ensuring that irrelevant information is not encoded. Dube et al. (2017) suggested that this attentional filter also regulates the distribution of VWM resources, ensuring the most relevant items are encoded with the greatest precision (the Filter and Distribute account). There are individual differences in VWM capacity, and high- and low-capacity individuals differ in their ability to filter distraction (Vogel et al., 2005). Here we examine whether high- and low-capacity individuals also differ in their ability to flexibly distribute VWM resources. We first used a change localization task to measure VWM capacity: participants viewed an array of colored squares and identified the item that changed color when the array reappeared. We separated participants into high- and low-capacity groups using a median split on capacity estimates. Next, participants viewed four colored shapes (two circles/two squares) before reporting the color of a probed shape in a continuous report task. We manipulated the likelihood that a square (or circle) would be probed (target shape counterbalanced across participants), such that the probed item was 60%, 70%, 80%, or 90% likely to be the pre-designated target shape (blocked conditions). We observed flexible resource distribution in both VWM groups: the precision of color report increased with increasing probe probability. Unlike the ability to filter out distraction, our results suggest that low-capacity VWM individuals do not show reduced ability to flexibly distribute resources in VWM. Thus, counter to the suggestion made by the Filter and Distribute account, the ability to filter information in/out of VWM and the ability to flexibly distribute resources among encoded information may be supported by distinct mechanisms.

Acknowledgements: This project is supported by NIH R01-EY025648 (JG), NSF 1848939 (JG), and NSERC PDF.