Electrophysiological evidence supports the role of sustained visuospatial attention in maintaining visual WM contents
Liang, T., Chen, X., Ye, C., Zhang, J., & Liu, Q. (2019). Electrophysiological evidence supports the role of sustained visuospatial attention in maintaining visual WM contents. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 146, 54-62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2019.09.011
Published inInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.
Recent empirical and theoretical work suggests that there is a close relationship between visual working memory (WM) and visuospatial attention. Here, we investigated whether visuospatial attention was involved in maintaining object representations in visual WM. To this end, the alpha lateralization and contralateral delay activity (CDA) were analyzed as neural markers for visuospatial attention and visual WM storage, respectively. In the single-task condition, participants performed a grating change-detection task. To probe the role of visuospatial attention in maintaining WM contents, two color squares were presented above and below the fixation point during the retention interval, which remained visible until the detection display was present. In the dual-task condition, participants were required to maintain lateralized gratings while staring at the center-presented color squares, to detect possible subsequent color change. With this task, sustained visuospatial attention that guided to individual memory representations was disrupted. The behavioral data showed that, the insertion of secondary task significantly deteriorated WM performance. For electrophysiological data, we divided the retention interval into two stages, the early stage and late stage, bounded by the onset of the secondary task. We found that CDA amplitude was lower under the dual-task condition than the single-task condition during the late stage, but not the early stage, and the extent to which CDA reduced tracked the impaired memory performance at the individual level. Also, alpha lateralization only could be observed in the single-task condition of the late stage, and completely disappeared in the dual-task condition, indicating the disruption of visuospatial attention directed to memory representations. Individuals who experienced greater visuospatial attention disruption, as indicated by the alpha lateralization, had lower maintenance-associated neural activity (CDA), and suffered greater impairment of memory performance. These findings confirm that sustained visuospatial attention continues improving visual WM processing after the initial encoding phase, and most likely participates in this process by supporting the maintenance of representations in an active state. ...
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Additional information about fundingThe study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC 31571123) to QL. TL QL completed the analysis and drafted the manuscript. All authors plan Experiment and modified the manuscript.
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