Dual-task interference in visual working memory: a limitation in storage capacity but not in encoding or retrieval.

Fougnie D, Marois R
Atten Percept Psychophys. 2009 71 (8): 1831-41

PMID: 19933566 · PMCID: PMC2784651 · DOI:10.3758/APP.71.8.1831

The concurrent maintenance of two visual working memory (VWM) arrays can lead to profound interference. It is unclear, however, whether these costs arise from limitations in VWM storage capacity (Fougnie & Marois, 2006) or from interference between the storage of one visual array and encoding or retrieval of another visual array (Cowan & Morey, 2007). Here, we show that encoding a VWM array does not interfere with maintenance of another VWM array unless the two displays exceed maintenance capacity (Experiments 1 and 2). Moreover, manipulating the extent to which encoding and maintenance can interfere with one another had no discernable effect on dual-task performance (Experiment 2). Finally, maintenance of a VWM array was not affected by retrieval of information from another VWM array (Experiment 3). Taken together, these findings demonstrate that dual-task interference between two concurrent VWM tasks is due to a capacity-limited store that is independent from encoding and retrieval processes.

MeSH Terms (16)

Attention Choice Behavior Color Perception Conflict, Psychological Cues Discrimination, Psychological Female Humans Male Memory, Short-Term Orientation Pattern Recognition, Visual Psychophysics Reaction Time Retention, Psychology Young Adult

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