Neural processing of repeated search targets depends upon the stimuli: Real world stimuli engage semantic processing and recognition memory

Trafton Drew, Lauren H. Williams, Christopher Michael Jones, Roy Luria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent evidence has suggested that visual working memory (VWM) plays an important role in representing the target prior to initiating a visual search. The more familiar we are with the search target, the more refined the representation of the target (or “target template”) becomes. This sharpening of the target template is thought to underlie the reduced response time (RT) and increased accuracy associated with repeatedly searching for the same target. Perhaps target representations transition from limited-capacity VWM to Long-Term Memory (LTM) as targets repeat. In prior work, amplitude of an event-related potential (ERP) component associated with VWM representation decreased with target repetition, broadly supporting this notion. However, previous research has focused on artificial stimuli (Landolt Cs) that are far removed from search targets in the real world. The current study extends this work by directly comparing target representations for artificial stimuli and common object images. We found VWM representation follows the same pattern for real and artificial stimuli. However, the initial selection of the real world objects follows a much different pattern than more typical artificial stimuli. Further, the morphology of nonlateralized waveforms was substantially different for the two stimulus categories. This suggests that the two types of stimuli were processed in fundamentally different ways. We conclude that object type strongly influences how we deploy attentional and mnemonic resources prior to search. Early attentional selection of familiar objects may facilitate additional LTM processes that lead to behavioral benefits not seen with more simplistic stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Article number460
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Anterior N2
  • CDA
  • ERPs
  • LPC
  • N2pc
  • N400
  • Visual search
  • Visual working memory

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