Where to attend next? Guiding refreshing of visual, spatial, and verbal representations in working memory
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Description: One of the functions that attention may serve in working memory (WM) is of boosting information accessibility, a mechanism known as attentional refreshing. Refreshing is assumed to be a domain-general process operating on visual, spatial, and verbal representations alike. So far, few studies have manipulate which information is being refreshed at each point in time to directly measure the WM benefits of refreshing. Recently, some of us developed a guided-refreshing method, which consists of presenting cues during the retention interval of a WM task to instruct people to refresh (i.e., attend to) the cued items. Using a continuous color reconstruction task, previous studies demonstrated that the error in reporting a color varies linearly with the frequency with which it was refreshed. Here, we extend this approach to test whether this guided-refreshing method is effective to trace the WM benefits of refreshing different representations types, from colors to spatial orientations and words. Across 6 experiments, we show that refreshing frequency modulates performance in all domains in accordance with the tenet that refreshing is domain-general. The benefits of refreshing were however larger for visual than verbal materials.