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The effects of capacity load and resolution load on visual selective attention during visual working memory

LI Shouxin;CHE Xiaowei;LI Yanjiao;WANG Li;CHEN Kaisheng

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2019,Vol 51,No. 05

【Abstract】 Selective attention plays an important role in processing relevant information and ignoring irrelevant distractors. The relationship between visual working memory (VWM) and visual selective attention has been extensively studied. VWM is a complex system consisting of not only visual maintenance functions, but also executive control functions. High load on visual maintenance functions drains the capacity for perception and prevents distractors from being perceived, while high load on executive control functions drains the capacity available for active control and results in increased processing of irrelevant distractors. There are two types of load in VWM, namely, capacity load referring to the number of items to be stored, and resolution load emphasizing the precision of the stored representations. It has been found that these two types of load exert opposite effects on selective attention. However, the mechanism underlying the effects of different types of VWM load on selective attention is still unclear. In the present study, four experiments were designed to investigate how different types of VWM load affect selective attention. Thirty-six participants were enrolled in experiments 1, 2 and 3, respectively, and 14 participants were enrolled in Experiment 4. Participants were asked to perform both a VWM task and a visual search task. In the VWM task, participants had to retain colors in VWM to perform a change detection task. There were three levels of VWM load, that is, baseline, high-capacity load and high-resolution load. In the baseline condition, participants were required to retain two colors and the change between the memory colors and the probe colors was large. In the high-capacity load condition, participants had to retain four colors and the change between the memory colors and the probe colors was also large. In the high-resolution load condition, participants had to retain two colors and the change between the memory colors and the probe colors was small. In Experiment 1 and Experiment 2, the visual search task was a Flanker task that was presented either in the periphery or in the center of the memory array. The Flanker task was presented with the memory array simultaneously in Experiment 1 and sequentially in Experiment 2. In Experiment 3, the visual search task was a Navon task. It was presented after the memory array and only in the center of the memory array. In Experiment 4, a Flanker task was presented after the memory array and only in the center of the memory array. EEG data during the memory interval were recorded by a 64-channel amplifier using a standard 10-20 system. The results showed that high-capacity load and high-resolution load reduced Flanker interference, compared with baseline, when the VWM task and the Flanker task were presented simultaneously. High-capacity load and high-resolution load also reduced Flanker interference, compared with baseline, when the VWM task and the Flanker task were presented sequentially and the Flanker task was presented in the periphery of the memory array. Compared with baseline, high-capacity load increased Flanker interference and high-resolution load reduced Flanker interference when the VWM task and the Flanker task were presented sequentially and the Flanker task was presented in the center of the memory array. Under the high-capacity load condition, the Navon interference for attending to the global level was larger than that for attending to the local level; under the high-resolution load condition, the Navon interference for attending to the global level was smaller than that for attending to the local level. ERP results showed that relative to the baseline condition, the high-capacity load condition elicited smaller N2, whereas the high-resolution load condition elicited larger N2. In conclusion, when the Flanker task is presented during encoding stage of VWM, high-capacity load and high-resolution load reduce interference. When the Flanker task is presented in the periphery of the memory array during maintaining stage of VWM, high-capacity load and high-resolution load reduce interference. These findings support the load theory of selective attention. However, when the Flanker task is presented in the center of the memory array during the maintenance stage, high-capacity load and high-resolution load lead to opposite effects. High-resolution load reduce interference, while high-capacity load increase interference. The underlying mechanism is that the different patterns of neural activity associated with the two types of VWM load may result in different distribution of cognitive control resources to selective attention.

Storage mechanism of same-dimension features in visual working memory

WANG Jing;XUE Chengbo;LIU Qiang

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2018,Vol 50,No. 02

【Abstract】 Although visual working memory (VWM) has been studied for decades, the storage mechanism of VWM remains unclear. A strong object-based theory and a weak object-based theory have been proposed for the VWM storage mechanism. The arguments of these two theories focus on whether same-dimension features can be integrated into the representation of objects stored in VWM. The strong object-based theory claimed that object was a unit of VWM, the capacity of which was not affected by the number of features. However, the recent studies have proved that with weak object-based theory, the same-dimension features (e.g., two colors) cannot be integrated simultaneously into the representation of objects in VWM, and the VWM capacity was constrained by the number of features. The aim of this paper is to explore whether same-dimension features can be successfully integrated into a representation of objects stored in VWM. Based on the finding of previous study, we proposed that experimental paradigm and stimulus property might be the main factors that influence the integration of same-dimension information into a representation. Two experiments were conducted to test whether these two factors could affect the integration process respectively. Experiment 1 used a recall task to investigate whether experimental paradigm is a main factor to influence the integration of same-dimension features. The results show that, for all experimental paradigms, participants were unable to integrated the same-dimension features into a representation. These suggest that experimental paradigm is not a main factor for explaining the failure of the integration of same-dimension features into a representation stored in VWM. Experiment 2 was conducted to explore whether stimulus property could affect the integration of same-dimension features. Two types of stimulus were selected as experimental materials (e.g., meaningless and meaningful objects). We expected that, in meaningful object condition, participants would easily memorize two conjoint colors as one representation because of the integrated clues (the meaningful shapes); in contrast, participants were more likely to memorize the two features separately due to the absence of integrated clues. The results of Experiment 2 show that, the same-dimension features could not be integrated into one representation in both conditions (meaningful and meaningless objects). Thus, Experiment 2 suggests that the same-dimension features could not be integrated into a representation of objects stored in VWM, regardless of the integrated clues. The present study provides supporting evidences for the weak object-based theory by claiming that manipulation of variables such as experimental paradigm and stimulus property exerts no effect on the memorization of the same-dimension features.

Visual and auditory verbal working memory affects visual attention in the semantic matching

LI Biqin;LI Ling;WANG Aijun;ZHANG Ming

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2018,Vol 50,No. 05

【Abstract】 Previous studies have showed that information held in working memory (WM) can guide or capture attention during visual search in a relatively automatic way, even when it is irrelevant and detrimental to current task performance. Some researchers have proposed that the semantic match between WM contents and distractors could also capture attention, as well as the perceptual match. As we known, the verbal WM contents can be stored in the visual and auditory inputs. Even though the automatic influence of visual verbal WM on visual attention have been demonstrated, it remains unknown whether the auditory verbal WM could automatically capture attention. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the attention guidance by the verbal WM contents. The present study included two experiments to explore the questions presented above. In Experiment 1, the memory item was a verbal Chinese character that presented visually, denoting a color, such as “红”. The participants were instructed to remember the word and avoid the potential distractors. Subsequently, they completed a visual search task, in order to test whether the verbal WM contents could guide attention. The results showed that, compared with the control condition, the visual search RTs were longer in the perceptual matching and semantic matching conditions, and the same as the RTs in the fastest trials. With the memory item that never matched the target in the search task, we suggested that the verbal WM contents that were presented visually (vis-VWM) could capture attention at perceptual and semantic levels automatically. In Experiment 2, the memory item was presented by the auditory inputs via the headphones (audi-VWM). The results showed that the visual search RTs in the semantic matching condition were shorter than RTs in the control and perceptual matching conditions, and there was no significant difference in the other conditions. Meanwhile, compared to the shortest RTs across the different conditions, the results showed that the RTs in the semantic matching condition were longer than in the control condition, which suggested that the auditorily-presented verbal WM could capture attention at the semantic level in the fastest response trials. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that the verbal working memory that presented visually could automatically capture attention at both perceptual and semantic levels, and also verified the hypothesis that the attention capture effect would occur at the early stages of attention. However, the contents of verbal working memory would always capture attention at the earlier processing stage and could only be rejected at the later processing stage when the contents were auditorily presented. Due to the modality specificity, attention resources would be distributed to different sensory modalities. The memory matching distractors could be rejected at the later processing stage because of there were the sufficient cognitive resources.

The causal role of right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in visual working memory

WANG Sisi;KU Yixuan

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2018,Vol 50,No. 07

【Abstract】 The right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) plays an important role in working memory. Previous neuroimaging and neurophysiological studies have found sustained and elevated right DLPFC activity during working memory delay period. Meanwhile, the right DLPFC has been suggested to be more dominant in visuospatial than verbal working memory. While the causal evidence for the relationship between the right DLPFC and visual working memory is still rare. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and electroencephalograph (EEG) were combined to investigate the causal relationship between the right DLPFC and processes of visual working memory. Forty participants performed a color change detection task with memory load of 4 items (load-4) or 6 items (load-6) while their EEG was recorded. Before they performed the tasks, either 15 min of 1.5 mA transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) or 30 s of 1.5 mA sham stimulation (SHAM) was applied over the right DLPFC. The participants were divided into two groups according to their working memory capacity increment from load-4 to load-6 in the sham condition. The group who gained more increment (the high potential group) under the sham condition also benefit more from the anodal tDCS over the right DLPFC, while the other group (the low potential group) did not show such effects. To further explore the neural mechanisms, N2pc and SPCN were compared between different conditions. N2pc did not show any stimulating effects or load effects for both low and high potential groups. In contrast, although SPCN did not show significant main effects of load or stimulation, or their interaction for the low potential group, SPCN did show main effects of stimulation for high potential group. The amplitude of SPCN after tDCS over the right DLPFC was significantly larger than that after the sham stimulation under load-4 condition, which coincided with the behavioral findings, and further suggested the role of the right DLPFC in representing the memory information during retrieval. In sum, anodal tDCS over the right DLPFC promoted visual working memory capacity of those who had more cognitive potential from easier task (load-4) to harder task (load-6). The present study confirmed the causal role of the right DLPFC in representing the visual working memory information during the retrieval period.

Effect of spatial position based configuration on visual working memory performance

HUANG Yushang;CAO Liren

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2018,Vol 50,No. 11

【Abstract】 It has been widely acknowledged that visual working memory (VWM) only maintains and manipulates a limited amount of visual information (e.g. 3–4 objects). Studies on how VWM stores and processes objects have been effective and have yielded useful results. Previous studies in this field are focused on the processing mechanisms of individual objects. However, the mechanisms for grouping and organization of visual objects have received an increasing amount of attention recently. Among numerous types of organizations, configuration, i. e. the spatial formation of visual objects, plays a vital role in understanding the flexibility of human VWM. Many studies have shown that configuration had significant influence on VWM performance. However, configuration was usually employed as an approach to explore the effect of other factors on the memory system. Only a few studies have directly addressed the mechanism of the configuration VWM. In this study, we attempt to determine the critical factor of the information contained in a given configuration that influences VWM. We then attempt to outline the underlying mechanism of the processing in memory system for a given configuration. In Experiments 1 and 2, we separately controlled the variation of two aspects for a given configuration: the spatial position (i. e. relative position of an object described in left, right, and up/down, will be changed when configuration rotates), and the geometric shape (i. e., shape of the polygon with the objects as its vertexes, irrelevant to rotation). These two factors might vary independently or simultaneously. If the spatial position is the dominant factor in the influence of configuration on VWM, the performance will improve when the spatial position is kept constant. Consequently, broken or rotated geometric shapes will not affect memory performance. If geometric shape is the critical factor, the effects would be in reverse, wherein the performance would improve if the geometric shape is kept constant. The results from our experiments indicate that spatial position is the dominant factor. There was no significant difference on VWM performance between same-position–different-shape conditions (geometric shape varied while spatial position preserved) and the baseline condition (configuration were completely identical). The memory performance declined significantly against the baseline level when spatial position changed, regardless of the geometric shape. In Experiment 3, we systematically considered the rotation of a given configuration. A rotation clue was provided that mental rotation can be conducted on the previewed configuration. The paradigms were identical to Experiments 1 and 2; however, the controlled factor of Experiment 3 was the consistency between the rotation clue and the spatial position/geometric shape in test phase. When spatial position is consistent with the rotation clue, the memory performance was better. Once again, the geometric shape showed no significant effect. These findings suggest the following: First, when a given configuration boost the efficiency of VWM, the primary factor is the spatial position of the object. Second, the overall geometric shape has no significant influence on VWM performance. Third, the role of these two factors maintains the same under mental rotation of a given configuration.

The modulation of working memory load and perceptual load on attentional guidance from representations of working memory

ZHANG Bao;HU Cenlou;CHEN Yanzhang;MIAO Sumei;HUANG Sai

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2017,Vol 49,No. 08

【Abstract】 Attention is biased towards the objects that sharing common features with the online representations inworking memory (working memory) and such phenomenon is called working memory based attentional guidance. Although theattentional guidance was regarded as operating in an involuntary manner, many researchers still found that theguidance effects decreased or even eliminated with the increasing of working memory load. However, the issue how working memoryload affects attentional guidance is still controversial. The probable reason for the attenuating of memory-drivenguidance caused by the working memory load might either be due to exhausting of cognitive resources with the loadincreasing, or be due to the reducing of the representation status when multiple representations maintaining in working memory simultaneously. Here, with using the eye movement tracking technique to measure the attentional deployment in real time during the visual search task, we attempted to explore how the working memory load modulated the attentional guidance under different perceptual load of visual search task. The classic dual-task paradigm combined the working memory task and the visual search task was adopted in the present study. Participants were required to complete a visual search task while maintaining 1, 2 or 4 items in the working memory online. During the visual search task, one of the working memory items either reappear as a distractor of visual searchtask in the invalid condition or not reappear in the neutral condition. When low perceptual load of visual search task was used in experiment 1 and 3, the results showed that the distractor matched the working memory representation could capture more of the first fixation than other distractors, and the RT in invalid condition was significant greater than the neutral condition in visual search under working memory load of 1and 2, suggesting a classic attentional guidance effect, but this effect was not observed when the working memory load increased to 4 items which was regarded as the full load of working memory. In contrast, when the high perceptual load ofvisual search task was used in experiment 2 and 4, the guidance effect was only found under the working memory load of 1, and disappeared when the working memory load add to 2 items. In conclusion, the present study illustrated that (1) both the load of working memory and perceptual load of visualsearch task can modulate the working memory based attentional guidance by the means of competing for the common cognitive resources, and (2) multiple representations maintained simultaneously in working memory can guide attentional selection if the cognitive resources are sufficient.

Chunking processing of spatial working memory in autism preschool children

LI Songze;HU Jinsheng;LI Chengshi;WANG Qi;HE Jianqing;WANG Yan;YANG Cuiping

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2017,Vol 49,No. 05

【Abstract】 Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) individuals are confirmed to have deficits in spatial working memory, but the specific impaired element is still undefined. Chunking is an effective form of strategic encoding that involves the recoding of a set of data into a compressed and efficient form and can extend working memory capacity. Spatial chunking is a key segment of the spatial working memory processing. Structured stimuli significantly encourage chunking, lessening working memory demand and significantly improving working memory performance. In this study, we used the Sternberg spatial working memory task and the Corsi’s spatial span task, and manipulated the structure of stimulus spatial arrangement. In this method, we investigated the chunking processing of autism preschool children, and evaluated the relationship between spatial chunking and spatial working memory capacity in ASD. All participants were recruited in a integrated kindergarten, including 15 ASD children and 18 typical developing children. Age ranged from 4.5 to 7 years old. Participants were matched in age, verbal intelligence and nonverbal intelligence. In Experiment 1, participants were required to remember positions of several stimuli which are presented simultaneously, and only judge one position of them. The accuracy of participants was recorded. In Experiment 2, stimulus positions were presented one by one. Participants were required to remember positions of several stimuli, and repeat the stimulus positions in the same order. Experiments were manipulated into 2 conditions. In the high-structured condition, all sequences followed a structured rule such that locations were organized as familiar shape components, involving symmetry and parallel sides, and were thus more easily organized into higher-level patterns. In the low-structured condition, locations were organized as irregular figures. The results in Experiment 1 proved that chunking deficits existed in ASD children. First of all, healthy children performed significantly better than ASD children in high-structured condition, F(1,31) = 18.21, p < 0.001, ηp2 = 0.370. But there was no difference in low-structured condition between the 2 groups, F(1,31) = 0.87, p = 0.358, ηp2 = 0.027. Besides, healthy children performed significantly better in high-structured condition comparing with the low-structured condition (p < 0.001). In contrast, ASD children did not show any difference in the 2 conditions (p = 0.245). This proved that the high-structured arrangement encouraged high-level chunking in typical developing children. But ASD children were insensitive in the structured arrangement of stimulus and cannot apply chunking strategy effectively. According to the results in Experiment 2, the spatial capacity of ASD children was significantly lower than that of healthy children no matter in high- or low-structured conditions [F(1,31) = 41.68, p < 0.001, ηp2 = 0.573; F(1,31) = 12.65, p = 0.001, ηp2 = 0.290]. High-structured arrangement significantly improved the spatial working memory capacity in typical developing children (p < 0.001), but also influenced ASD children to some extent (p = 0.041). Chunking deficits influenced spatial capacity in ASD children, and abnormal memory storage is also an important factor. In summary, ASD children showed impairment in chunking in spatial working memory, and cognitive style of weak central coherence plays a crucial role in spatial chunking. Besides, attention control and executive function have indirect effect in spatial working memory processing in other domains. These findings not only provide inspiration for developing cognitive intervention model, but also provide a breakthrough to the neurophysiological mechanism studies in ASD.

Perceiving better, inhibiting better: Effects of perceptual precision on distractor-inhibition processes during working memory

LIU Zhiying;KU Yixuan

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2017,Vol 49,No. 10

【Abstract】 Working memory (WM) is the memory system to store and process information shortly for the goal-directed behavior. The resource of WM is extremely limited. It is necessary to selectively maintain relevant information and inhibit interference from distracting information. Previous studies have found that individuals with high WM capacity would be able to suppress interference more efficiently. However, it’s still unknown whether the precision of WM representation will be influenced by distractors in a similar way as WM capacity. Perceptual representation as the first stage of information processing, its precision will highly influence the quality of information stored in WM. Here, we adopted an independent perceptual task and a variant version of color recall task to examine (1) the effect of interference on WM capacity as well as precision and (2) whether the precision of perceptual representation would influence the ability to inhibit interference during WM processing. Fifty-three undergraduate students participated in the experiment. In the first perceptual task, participants reported the color of a cued item while the item remained presented until a response was made. Afterwards, color recall tasks were operated including a ‘distractor-present’ and a ‘distractor-absent’ condition. Each condition contained three levels of WM load: low (2 targets), medium (4 targets) and high (6 targets). In ‘distractor-present’ condition, target items were presented along with two more distracting colored stimuli with a different shape. Participants were asked to remember only the color of the target items and report the remembered color of a cued item by clicking on a color wheel. From the distribution of errors between the reported color value and the original color value, we could obtain measures for both capacity and precision via standard mixture model used by Zhang and Luck, 2008. To explore the effects of distractor on WM capacity and precision and whether these influence will vary with WM load, repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed on WM capacity and precision. For WM capacity, main effects of distractors, WM load and their interaction were significant. WM capacity decreased with increasing WM load. And WM capacity in ‘distractor-absent’ condition was significantly higher than performance in ‘distractor-present’ condition. Interaction of distractor and WM load mainly reflected that distractors decreased WM capacity under the medium and high loads. For WM precision, main effect of load was significant and distractor affected precision on low load condition. When all participants were divided into two groups according to their performance in the perceptual task, the distractor effect only existed in the group with lower perceptual precision. Pearson correlation analysis further revealed that perceptual precision could predict the ability to inhibit distractors, in either WM capacity or precision. The quality of the perceptual representation in the lower group negatively correlated with the distractor effect in WM capacity while the perceptual precision in the higher group negatively correlated with the distractor effect for WM precision. The present study has shown that interference influenced the quantity and quality of WM representations differently under certain WM load. And individuals with lower perceptual quality would be more susceptible to interference. These findings imply that the performance and the ability to suppress distraction during WM may be enhanced via training of perceptual precision.

Age-related differences of different components of working memory: The predictive effect on strategy utilization in arithmetic

DING Xiao;LV Na;YANG Yalin;SI Jiwei

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2017,Vol 49,No. 06

【Abstract】 Arithmetic strategy utilization study is one of research hotspots for mathematical education, which relates to the studies of teaching, psychology, decision-making and so on. Studies showed that arithmetic strategy utilization could predict people’s arithmetic performance and was affected by task characteristics, problem situation, strategy adaptability, cognitive ability, emotion, individual development, etc. Accompanied with the deep researches about working memory, more and more evidence indicated that working memory, as a higher-level cognitive processing, affected arithmetic strategy utilization. However, those findings did not reach a stable consistency. Consequently, the present study explored the predictive effect of different components of working memory on computational estimation for people with different ages. The present study adopted the choice/no choice paradigm to explore how working memory affected individuals’ arithmetic strategy utilization (including strategy selection and strategy execution) by means of the AWMA and two-digit arithmetic estimation tasks. A total of 53 participants in grade 4 ( M = 10.09 years), 49 participants in grade 6 ( M = 12.18 years) and 52 undergraduate students ( M = 24.40 years) were recruited in this study. The whole experiments included two parts, the AWMA and two-digit arithmetic estimation tasks, which were measured separately, and each participant was asked to complete these tests individually. Major findings were as follows: (1) Significant correlation was obtained between different components of working memory and participants’ age. Except visuo-spatial sketchpad, all the components scores of working memory improved significantly accompanied with the growth of their ages. (2) In arithmetic strategy utilization, strategy selection was related with age. It showed that arithmetic strategy selection performances of participants improved significantly with the growth of their ages. (3) For participants with different ages, the different relationships were found between different components of working memory and strategy selection. A significant predictive effect was found for central executive component of working memory. Nevertheless, phonological loop and visuo-spatial sketchpad failed to reach the significant level. More vitally, all participants’ scores in AWMA and strategy execution test at all ages did not show significant relationships. In conclusion, age influenced the performance of working memory central executive and phonological loop, and the performance in the strategy selection tasks was promoted along with the growth of the age. Moreover, central executive, but not phonological loop and visuo-spatial sketchpad, has a predictive effect on arithmetic strategy selection for all of people with different ages. Such an effect was not found for different components of working memory on the prediction of individuals’ strategy execution at all ages. These findings have important theoretical implications for understanding the mechanism of working memory system in the use of arithmetic strategies.

The baseline fluid intelligence modulated the transfer effect from working memory to fluid intelligence

ZHU Zude;DUAN Yixing;WANG Suiping

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2017,Vol 49,No. 08

【Abstract】 While some previous studies have found significant transfer effect from working memory to fluid intelligence, other studies have failed. The discrepancy may due to individual difference. One type of individual differences is the working memory training improvement. It was found that, transfer effect was found only in participants who showed significant training improvement. Another type of individual differences is the cognitive ability at baseline, such as baseline fluid intelligence. It remains unclear how such individual differences modulate transfer effect in working memory training. Specifically, the aim of the present study was to investigate how the individual fluid intelligence at baseline modulates the working memory transfer effect. In total, 40 college students were recruited and randomly assigned into active control group ( N = 19, 8 males/11 females) and training group ( N = 21, 9 males/12 females). The training group was asked to complete a dual n-back task. The participants were asked to perform the training 25 minutes a day, 5 days per week in four weeks. The dual n-back task was computerized, in which participants were required to determine if the stimulus position and voice in the current trial were the same as that in the previous n − 1 trial. The n was adaptively changed according to the participants’ performances. Meanwhile, the active control group received a scientific knowledge reading training. To make sure the participants’ engaged in the task, the reading material was different for each time. The training time setting in the active control group was the same as that in the training group. All participants were tested by the Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM) before and after the training. In order to avoid the impact of repeated measures, the RSPM were divided into two parallel tests and were counterbalanced across groups and test sessions. The training group showed significant improvement in the dual n-back task, with an average maximum n = 4.86 and mean improved n = 2.51 after 20 days training. In addition, the results have revealed three key findings. First, we found significant group by test session interaction. Specifically, while the RSPM scores were comparable across test sessions in the active control group, the score of RSPM was significantly improved in the post-test than the baseline in the training group. Secondly, to reveal the potential interaction between baseline intelligence and training score improvement on the transfer effect, comparison of moderators was performed by using hierarchy regression. The results revealed that, intelligence improvement was positively correlated with working memory training improvement and negatively correlated with baseline intelligence performance. Additionally, the interaction term of training improvement and baseline intelligence performance positively correlated with intelligence gain. The interaction suggests that, a person can gain the best if he/she showed highest baseline intelligence performance and highest working memory training improvement. In summary, the current study confirmed that working memory training can improve fluid intelligence. More importantly, the results demonstrated that individual difference, i.e., the baseline level of the fluid intelligence in the current project, has modulated the transfer effect from working memory training to fluid intelligence. The results thus suggested that, future studies should pay more attention on individual difference, to reveal the trainability or transfer gain variance across participants.

What do eye movements reveal about the role of cognitive control in attention guidance from working memory representation

ZHANG Bao;HU Cenlou;Huang Sai

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2016,Vol 48,No. 09

【Abstract】 The biased competition model of attention proposes that stimuli in visual scene compete for attentional selection with the ‘winner' gaining control of both perceptual and response systems. The activation of relevant object features in working memory (WM) biases neural activity in specific brain regions that encode those particular features so that the object could win the competition and get the priority of attention. In decades, researchers have found that irrelevant representations in working memory (WM) could guide visual attention bias to the distractors that sharing the features of the WM representations in visual search task. However, the issue whether the cognitive control could modulate the process of attentional guidance was controversial yet. Here, we adopted the eye movement tracking technique to examine (1) whether the cognitive control made the participants intentionally inhibit or reject the bias of attention towards the WM matched distractor and (2) when did cognitive control play the role in the processing of attentional guidance. The participants in the present study were asked to search for a target among three distractors while holding a colored shape online in WM. During the visual search task, the item in WM either reappeared as one of the distractors in half of trials or did not reappear in other half of trials. Most importantly, at the beginning of the experiment, all the participants were indefinitely informed that the WM item could never reappear as target in visual search task and they could adopt the ‘rejecting' or ‘inhibiting' strategy to bias attention away towards such distractor so as to facilitate the efficiency of visual search. Both the eye movement deployment and the response time (RT) were recorded while the participants performing the visual search task. The results of experiment 1 showed that, when using the easy visual search task, an obviously attentional guidance effect was observed for both the first fixation proportion and RTs, and such effect was not affected by the visual search speed. However, when using the difficult visual search task, the results of the first fixation proportion showed an significant attentional guidance effect, and the magnitudes were significantly greater for the participants who searched fast (fast group) than for those who searched slowly (slow group). In contrast, the results of RTs failed to obtain any above attentional guidance effect, and the further analysis indicated that this null effect was due to the opposite attentioanl bias pattern represented for two groups of visual search speed, i.e., attentional guidance pattern for fast group and attentional rejection pattern for slow group. The results of experiment 2 found the attentional guidance remain robust at the early stage when the more prominent visual search target was adopted. Most importantly, the attentional guidance was stable even when the WM matched distractor directly competed with the prominent search target. In conclusion, the results showed that the attentional guidance from WM representation was dynamically changed along with the process of visual search and the cognitive control could modulate the attentional guidance effect only when the visual search was so slowly that the time for cognitive control working was sufficient. The modulation of cognitive control could weaken the magnitudes of attentional guidance effect at the early stage of visual search task and reverse the attentional bias pattern from guidance to rejection in the following processes of visual search task.

Influence of Emotion Regulation on Decision-Making in Basketball Players: Moderating Effect of Working Memory

FU Ying-ying;CHI Li-zhong

Journal of Beijing Sport University,2016,Vol 39,No. 04

【Abstract】 This research tried to investigate the effect of emotion regulation, visual-spatial working memory and verbal working memory upon the reaction time and accuracy of basketball players in decision-making, based on the cognitive approach and paradigms of cognitive psychology. Forty seven basketball players (18–22 years old) from one sports university participated in the studies. Self-developed software measuring working memory capacity and the accuracy and reaction time of decision-making were used in the investigation. The research consisted of 2 mixed-design experiments. Study 1 adopted mixed-design of emotion regulation (2) × visual–spatial working memory (2) × decision-making task (2) to investigate the influence of emotion regulation and visual–spatial working memory on the quality of decision–making. Study 2 adopted mixed–design of emotion regulation (2) × verbal working memory (2) × decision–making task (2) to investigate the influence of emotion regulation and verbal working memory on the quality of decision-making. The results suggested that visual–spatial working memory moderated the influence of emotion regulation on decision-making. Verbal working memory moderated the influence of emotion regulation on decision-making. The reaction time of high verbal working memory capacity is higher than that of low verbal working memory capacity. Conclusions: Emotion regulation and working memory are important for decision-making in basketball players. Visual–spatial working memory moderates the effect of emotion regulation on decision-making. Emotion regulation moderates the effect of verbal working memory on decision-making.

The Storage Mechanism of Multi-feature Objects in Visual Working Memory

LI Cuihong;HE Xu;GUO Chunyan

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2015,Vol 47,No. 06

【Abstract】 Visual working memory(VWM)is a temporary buffer that maintains a limited set of items(i.e., 3-4 objects) in an “online” state. Luck and Vogel(1997) demonstrated that the capacity was limited by the number of the integrated objects, but not by the number of the individual features. However, with the conjunction of homogenous features served as memory materials, follow-up studies showed that the subjects could retain fewer items than single-feature objects. Some researchers considered that the lower accuracy for conjunction of homogenous features may result from the difference of precision requirement, which was manipulated by the similarity between sample and test array. However, some experiment results showed that higher precision could only affect the accuracy of change detection task, but not the capacity. In present study, we carried out two experiments using change detection paradigm to examine the storage mechanism of multi-feature objects in VWM. In experiment 1, multi-feature and single-feature objects were defined by double-color objects and single-color objects, respectively. To manipulate the precision requirement, we further divide double-color objects into two conditions, that is, a single-change condition in which only one of the two colors changed(high-precision), and a double-change condition in which both colors changed(low-precision). In experiment 2, we focused on the single-change condition, and investigated the units of storage in VWM by manipulating weather there was an arrow indicating the changed color in the test phase. The result would further explain whether the storage mechanism of multi-feature objects is in an integrated manner or in an individual features manner. In experiment 1, we first compared the results of double-color objects and single-color objects to assess the influence of the feature number on the allocation of VWM capacity. Behavioral results showed that double-color objects were responded less accurately than single-color objects. The ERPs results showed that the amplitude of CDA for double-color objects was significantly higher than for single-color objects. Second, we compared the double-change condition and single-change condition to explore the effect of precision requirement. Lower accuracy was found for the single-change condition. CDA amplitudes did not differ between the two conditions. Instead, the amplitude of LPC for the single-change condition was more positive than for the double-change condition. In experiment 2, the accuracy was not modulated by weather there was an arrow or not. These results reveal that the number of features, but not the precision requirement, has an effect on the allocation of VWM capacity. And the units that limit our VWM capacity are the integrated objects instead of the individual features.

Memory Mechanism of Feature Binding in Visual Working Memory

XUE Cheng Bo;YE Chao Xiong;ZHANG Yin;LIU Qiang

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2015,Vol 47,No. 07

【Abstract】 A weak object-based theory considers visual working memory to be made up of many subsystems. Rather than competing for memory resources, this theory suggests that information about different feature dimensions is stored in independent subsystems that each has a limited capacity of memory resource.In addition to describing the storage capacity limitations of different feature dimensions, supporters of weak object-based theory also argue that the binding between features can itself be a dimension of information to be stored. There remains controversy concerning whether the storage of binding information is processed automatically and whether it needs attentional resources. Treisman et al.(2002) suggested that binding in visual memory might require attention to be focused on maintaining the links between features during the delay. Similarly feature-integration theory proposes that, when multiple objects are present, focused attention is required to correctly bind features for initial perception. In contrast, Allen et al.(2006) by adding a digit-span task, explored whether feature binding required additional resources. They found that memory for bound conditions did not require more attention than memory for single feature conditions, and suggested that binding in itself did not require attentional resources.To examine whether or not binding needs attentional resources we measured participants' ERPs in two conditions. In the single feature condition participants were required to judge whether the color of objects had changed from the initial display. On change trials, the objects occupied the same position but one item had changed to a new color that had not appeared in the initial display.In the feature binding condition, on no-change trials, participants had to judge both whether the color and the location in the test display had changed from the initial display. For change trials, the colors of any two objects exchanged position so that the relationship between colorand location changed for two objects. We compared the amplitude differences between the two conditions in the Contralateral Delay Activity(CDA) component of ERP data, to examine whether feature binding required attention.Accuracy for each condition was greater than 75% and there wereno significant behavioral differences between the single feature condition and the binding condition.Importantly, the ERP resultsalso showedno significantdifferences inamplitude across the two conditions. There was a significant main effect of set size.There were equal amplitudes for 3 items and 4 items, but amplitudes were significantly larger for both 3 and 4item than for 2 items. At the same time, there was no significant interaction between condition and number of items. All of the results support the hypothesis that no additional memory resources are required to store the binding between two features(color and position of an item) compared to those required to store a single feature(color).These results confirm that the binding relationship needs no attention resources. We take the result to be evidence of a relatively automatic visual feature binding mechanism in working memory.

The Attentional Capture of Internet Addicts under the Guidance of Visual Working Memory

ZHANG Wei;ZHOU Bingping;ZANG Ling;MO Shuliang

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2015,Vol 47,No. 10

【Abstract】 Some studies have demonstrated an improved selective attention of Internet Addicts compared with normal people. However, most of these studies were done based on the single-task experimental paradigm, in which participants were required to perform only a visual search task. This single-task paradigm has neglected the inseparable relationship between the visual working memory and selective attention. In the present study, we employed a dual-task paradigm that required the participants to perform a visual search task while keeping an object in working memory. The purpose of this study was to exam the differences of attentional capture between Internet Addicts and normal people.In our experiments, participants were instructed to remember a color object as the target item, and then to seek the target among five distractors. Experiment 1 used a single distractor under three conditions:(1) the distractor matched with the target item in color;(2) the distractor differed from the target item in color;(3) the distractor had no color. There were 16 participants in the Internet addition group(13 male, 18~22 years old, M = 19.25, SD = 0.86) and 24 participants in the control group(18 male, 18~20 years old, M = 18.96, SD = 0.84). Experiment 2 used multiple distractors under two conditions:(1) three(out of five) distractors matched with the target item in color and shape(matching trials);(2) all five distractors differed from the target item in color and shape(control trials). The proportion(20% or 80%) of matching trials was varied across different experimental groups to induce different levels of inhibition motivation. There were 31 participants(21 male, 18~22 years old, M = 19.35, SD = 1.05) in the Internet addition group and 32 participants(22 male, 18~20 years old, M = 19.56, SD = 1.05) in the control group. Repeated-measures ANOVA was used to analyze the RTs. In both experiments, participants in the Internet addition group responded faster than those in the control group. There was no evidence for a speed-accuracy trade-off in both groups. When there was only one distractor in the search task(Experiment 1), the distractor would capture the attention of participants in the control group under all conditions, but would not capture the attention of participants in the Internet addition group. When there were multiple distractors in the search task(Experiment 2), the attentional capture effects differed by the level of inhibition motivation. At a low level of inhibition motivation, search RTs were shorter in matching trials than in control trials for both groups, demonstrating a classical memory-based attention capture effect induced by memory-matching distractors. This effect was smaller in the Internet addition group. At a high level of inhibition motivation, search RTs were shorter in matching trials than in control trials, suggesting that there was a memory-based attention inhibition affected by top-down control. There was no difference in the attention inhibition effect between the two groups. These findings suggest that Internet Addicts differ from the normal controls in the attention capture led by working memory. When facing with common irrelevant visual stimuli, the Internet Addicts may perform faster in visual processing.

Dynamic Updating Process of Readers' Temporal Situation Model: From Short-term Working Memory to Long-term Working Memory

HE Xiayou;YANG Huilan;ZHANG Wei;ZHAO Xueru;XIE Yi

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2015,Vol 47,No. 10

【Abstract】 The situation model is a hot topic in current narrative comprehension research. The Event-indexing model proposed by Zwaan, Langson, and Graesser (1995) suggests that readers establish a mental representation of events by tracking them through five dimensions: time, space, characters, causality, and protagonist/object. A large number of previous studies have shown that the temporal dimension plays an important role in constructing the situation model. The Scenario Account (Anderson, 1983) argues that scene provides clues for temporal shifts, but the Strong Iconicity Assumption (Zwaan, 1996) argues that readers update the situation model as soon as temporal shifts appear. In this study, we designed two experiments to resolve the disagreement between the Scenario Account and the Strong Iconicity Assumption. We assume that the Scenario Model and the Strong Iconicity Assumption do not contradict each other due to how the updating of a situation model has a variable processing mode in different stages of memory processing. We designed two experiments to test this hypothesis: Experiment 1 examined the effects of temporal shifts on the updating of the situation model in short-term working memory, and Experiment 2 examined this effect in long-term working memory. In this study, a moving-window technique was used to explore the extent to which temporal shifts (long/short) affect updating of readers' situation model. Experiment la and lb examined whether long temporal shifts or short temporal shifts affected updating of readers' situation model in short-term working memory. A single factor within-subjects design (time shift of a moment after or a day later) was used. We predicted the long temporal shifts (Experiment la) would not result in the updating of readers' situation model due to the time limitation and difficulties of processing in short-term memory, but that short temporal shifts (Experiment lb) would. Experiment 2 further examined the extent to which long temporal shifts affected updating of the situation model in long-term working memory. We predicted that long temporal shifts would cause the updating of the situation model because there was sufficient time for processing and increased memory capacities associated with long-term working memory. The results confirmed our predictions that latencies of retrieval of removing entities showed no significant differences as a function of long temporal shifts and non-temporal shifts, which suggested that long temporal shifts did not result in situation model updating in Experiment la. However, Experiment lb revealed the latencies of retrieval of removing entities were much slower in the short temporal shifts condition than those in the non-temporal shifts condition. In addition, when the filler sentences were increased in Experiment 2, we also found slower latencies of retrieval of removing entities in the long temporal shifts, which suggested the situation model had been updated both in Experiment lb and Experiment 2. In sum, temporal shifts play an important role in the updating of readers' situation model. The findings showed that the longer temporal shifts were associated with greater difficulty to update the situation model. Therefore, only the short but not long temporal shifts condition resulted in situation model updating in short-term memory, but when information was stored in long-term memory, updating was possible in the long temporal shifts condition. The results collectively demonstrate that temporal situation model updating is dynamic.

Meta-Stereotype Threat Effects on Working Memory Among Migrant Children: Mediating Effects of Intergroup Anxiety

SUN Yawen;HE Wen;LUO Junlong

Acta Psychologica Sinica,2015,Vol 47,No. 11

【Abstract】 Meta-stereotype refers to a person’s beliefs regarding the stereotype that out-group members hold about his or her own group. The model of intergroup anxiety argues that negative meta-stereotype generates threat by creating negative expectations on the behavior of out-group members. Previous research has demonstrated that intergroup anxiety following stereotype threat contributes to the depletion of working memory and then impairs the performance in the related domain, but the mechanism of the meta-stereotype threat effects on cognition remains unclear. Accordingly, it was common that migrant children have the negative meta-stereotype, however, the influence of negative meta-stereotype on migrant children’s cognition has not been thoroughly investigated. The current study aimed to explore, firstly, the negative meta-stereotype effects on working memory among migrant children; secondly, the mediated role of the intergroup anxiety between meta-stereotype and working memory; and thirdly, the moderated role of difficulty of working memory task on negative meta-stereotype effects. A total of 90 migrant children participated in the present study. Participants were instructed to write descriptive adjectives to evoke negative meta-stereotype or not according to different instructions. Then, participants were assigned to either the meta-stereotype threat (MST) condition (25 males, 24 females, aged 11–13 years, M = 12.05, SD = 0.83) or the non-MST condition (21 males, 20 females, aged 11–13 years, M = 12.24, SD = 0.79). This study was organized into a 2 × 3 design. The first factor was the type of meta-stereotype, consisting of 2 levels, MST condition and non-MST condition. The second factor was the type of working memory, including 3 levels, 0-, 1-, and 2-back working memory tasks. The participants also completed the intergroup-anxiety scale. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and mediation analysis were used to analyze the data. The following results were observed: (1) The intergroup anxiety under the MST condition was higher than the case of non-MST condition. (2) The accuracy of reaction in the MST condition was significantly lower than that of the non-MST condition across the 0-, 1-, 2-back working memory tasks. Moreover, the accuracy in the MST and the non-MST condition both decreased significantly with the task difficulty growing. (3) In the 0-, 1-, 2-back working memory tasks, the reaction time of participants in the MST condition was significantly higher than those in the non-MST condition, and in the MST condition, the reaction time significantly increased with the increase of difficulty; the interaction between the group and the type of working memory was significant. (4) The relationship between the meta-stereotype and the accuracy of working memory (medium difficulty) was entirely mediated by the intergroup anxiety. The relationship between the meta-stereotype and the reaction time of working memory (medium difficulty) was partially mediated by the intergroup anxiety. Overall, it was suggested that the deleterious effects of negative meta-stereotype on working memory and the intergroup anxiety among migrant children contributed to the decline of working memory at medium level of difficulty. Further study still needs to precisely assess other factors (i.e., prejudice, social identity, and so on) that are involved in the threat effects of the meta-stereotype.

The Priority of Color in Working-Memory-Driven Ocular Capture


Acta Psychologica Sinica,2014,Vol 46,No. 01

【Abstract】 The target template maintaining in working memory can guide attention bias to target-like items in the visual scene facilitating the visual search. In addition to the target template, representations in working memory that are irrelevant to the search target have also been shown to guide attention in a top-down way. During visual search, the distractor sharing attributes with the online working memory representations capture more attention than other distractors, displaying a robust memory-driven attentional capture effect. However, not all stimulus attributes of the working memory representations are equally effective in capturing attention; previous studies showed that the color attribute of a memory-matched distractor was more effective in capturing the first fixation than the shape attribute. According to the opinion of Wolfe and Horowitz (2004), the color attribute was one of the “undoubted guiding attributes” that had greater efficiency for attention guidance than the shape attribute. So it is unclear yet whether color still has such priority when directly competing against the orientation attribute that is also one of the “undoubted guiding attributes”. Three experiments using the classic dual task paradigm were reported here to address this issue. In Experiment 1, participants were asked to search for a specific target accompanied with a distractor which was always located in the opposite visual field of the target. The target and the distractor were respectively embedded in the bar with color and/or orientation attributes same as or different from the objects held in the working memory. The results suggested that the bar would capture more first fixations (i.e., ocular capture effect) only when it shared color attribute with the memory items than when it did not; most importantly, the color-matched bar still captured more first fixations than the orientation-matched bar while they simultaneously appeared and directly competed for attention. In Experiment 2 and 3, participants were required to search either color or orientation of the remembered object. The results showed that in the color search task, ocular capture occurred when the color attributes of the target matched the remembered object regardless of the orientation attribute. However, in the orientation search task, ocular capture still occurred when the distractor was of the same color as the remembered object and slowed down search. These asymmetric results again demonstrated the priority of color attribute in the working memory representation. In conclusion, these results indicate that attentional priority could modulate attentional guidance from working memory, and the color attribute is of greater attentional priority for ocular capture than orientation.

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