Can you have multiple attentional templates? Large-scale replications of Van Moorselaar, Theeuwes, and Olivers (2014) and Hollingworth and Beck (2016)

Marcella Fratescu*, Dirk Van Moorselaar, Sebastiaan Mathot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Stimuli that resemble the content of visual working memory (VWM) capture attention. However, theories disagree on how many VWM items can bias attention simultaneously. According to some theories, there is a distinction between active and passive states in VWM, such that only items held in an active state can bias attention. The single-item-template hypothesis holds that only one item can be in an active state and thus can bias attention. In contrast, the multiple-item-template hypothesis posits that multiple VWM items can be in an activate state simultaneously, and thus can bias attention. Recently, Van Moorselaar, Theeuwes, and Olivers (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40(4):1450, 2014) and Hollingworth and Beck (Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 42(7):911-917, 2016) tested these accounts, but obtained seemingly contradictory results. Van Moorselaar et al. (2014) found that a distractor in a visual-search task captured attention more when it matched the content of VWM (memory-driven capture). Crucially, memory-driven capture disappeared when more than one item was held in VWM, in line with the single-item-template hypothesis. In contrast, Hollingworth and Beck (2016) found memory-driven capture even when multiple items were kept in VWM, in line with the multiple-item-template hypothesis. Considering these mixed results, we replicated both studies with a larger sample, and found that all key results are reliable. It is unclear to what extent these divergent results are due to paradigm differences between the studies. We conclude that is crucial to our understanding of VWM to determine the boundary conditions under which memory-driven capture occurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2700-2709
Number of pages10
JournalAttention perception & psychophysics
Volume81
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2019

Keywords

  • Visual working memory
  • Memory capture
  • Multiple-state account
  • Accessory
  • Attentional template
  • Single-item-template
  • Multiple-item-template
  • VISUAL WORKING-MEMORY
  • NEURAL MECHANISMS
  • GUIDANCE
  • COMPETITION
  • CAPTURE

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