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Constant, Martin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9574-0674 and Liesefeld, Heinrich René ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4551-8607 (30. March 2021): Massive Effects of Saliency on Information Processing in Visual Working Memory. In: Psychological Science: pp. 1-10 [PDF, 514kB]


Limitations in the ability to temporarily represent information in visual working memory (VWM) are crucial for visual cognition. Whether VWM processing is dependent on an object’s saliency (i.e., how much it stands out) has been neglected in VWM research. Therefore, we developed a novel VWM task that allows direct control over saliency. In three experiments with this task (on 10, 31, and 60 adults, respectively), we consistently found that VWM performance is strongly and parametrically influenced by saliency and that both an object’s relative saliency (compared with concurrently presented objects) and absolute saliency influence VWM processing. We also demonstrated that this effect is indeed due to bottom-up saliency rather than differential fit between each object and the top-down attentional template. A simple computational model assuming that VWM performance is determined by the weighted sum of absolute and relative saliency accounts well for the observed data patterns.

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