Location-based effects underlie feature conjunction benefits in visual working memory

Benchi Wang, Xiaohua Cao, Jan Theeuwes, Christian N. L. Olivers, Zhiguo Wang

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    19 Citations (Scopus)
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    Studies of visual working memory (VWM) have reported that different features belonging to the same object (conjunctions) are better retained than the same features belonging to spatially separated objects (disjunctions). This conjunction benefit has been taken as evidence for the theory that VWM representations are object-based. However, compared to separate features, conjunctions also occupy fewer locations. Here we tested the alternative hypothesis that the conjunction benefit reflects a spatial-based rather than an object-based advantage. Experiment 1 shows a clear VWM conjunction benefit for spatially laid out displays of memory items. However, when the same items were presented sequentially at one location (i.e., location was noninformative), memory performance was equivalent for conjunction and disjunction conditions. Experiment 2 shows that only when the probe carries spatial information (i.e., it matches the location of the memory item) does a conjunction benefit occur. Taken together, these results put important boundaries on object-based theories of VWM.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number12
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Vision
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016

    Bibliographical note

    Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • visual working memory
    • feature
    • conjunction
    • object-based benefit
    • location-based benefit


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