Retro-cues enhance retrieval and protect from visual interference

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Description: Visual working memory has a limited capacity. This limitation can be mitigated by the use of focused attention: if attention is drawn to the relevant working-memory content prior to test, performance improves (the so-called retro-cue benefit). This study tests two explanations of the retro-cue benefit: (1) Focused attention protects memory representations from interference by visual input at test, and (2) focusing attention enhances retrieval. Across six experiments using color recognition and color reproduction tasks, we varied the amount of color interference at test, and the delay between a retrieval cue (i.e., the retro-cue) and the memory test. Retro-cue benefits were larger when the memory test introduced interfering visual stimuli, showing that the retro-cue effect is in part due to protection from visual interference. Yet, when visual interference was held constant, retro-cue benefits were still obtained whenever the retro-cue enabled retrieval of an object from visual working memory but delayed response selection. Our results show that accessible information in visual working memory might be lost in the processes of testing memory due to visual interference and incomplete retrieval. This is not an inevitable state of affairs, though: Focused attention can be used to get the most out of visual working memory.

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This page contains supplementary information to the paper: Getting More from Visual Working Memory: Retro-Cues Enhance Retrieval and Protect from Visual Interference Authors: Alessandra S. Souza, Laura Rerko, & Klaus Oberauer University of Zurich, Switzerland Here we are providing open access to the data and analysis to all experiments reported in this paper. We also wish to document the methods...

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  • Theoretical Background

    The goal of this study was to test the predictions of two hypotheses of retro-cue benefits: (1) protection from test interference, and (2) retrieval h...

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  • Experiment Method

    This page is under construction. The aim is to document here the instructions, debriefing, and code for the experiment used to collect the data.

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  • Data Analysis


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