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Working memory load and the retro-cue effect: A diffusion model account

Working memory load and the retro-cue effect: A diffusion model account

Published in: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, Volume 44, Issue 2, 286-310

“Retro-cues (i.e., cues presented between the offset of a memory array and the onset of a probe) have consistently been found to enhance performance in working memory tasks, sometimes ameliorating the deleterious effects of increased memory load. However, the mechanism by which retro-cues exert their influence remains a matter of debate. To inform this debate, we applied a hierarchical diffusion model to data from 4 change detection experiments using single item, location-specific probes (i.e., a local recognition task) with either visual or verbal memory stimuli. Results showed that retro-cues enhanced the quality of information entering the decision process—especially for visual stimuli—and decreased the time spent on nondecisional processes. Further, cues interacted with memory load primarily on nondecision time, decreasing or abolishing load effects. To explain these findings, we propose an account whereby retro-cues act primarily to reduce the time taken to access the relevant representation in memory upon probe presentation, and in addition protect cued representations from visual interference.”

Written by: Peter Shepherdson, Klaus Oberauer, Alessandra S. Souza
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