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Journal Article

Gaze-based and attention-based rehearsal in spatial working memory


Czoschke,  Stefan
Department of Music, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;


Lange,  Elke B.
Department of Music, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Souza, A. S., Czoschke, S., & Lange, E. B. (2020). Gaze-based and attention-based rehearsal in spatial working memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(5), 980-1003. doi:10.1037/xlm0000771.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-A23E-F
How do we maintain information about spatial configurations in mind? Many working memory (WM) models assume that rehearsal processes are used to counteract forgetting in WM. Here, we investigated the contributions of gaze-based and attention-based rehearsal for protecting spatial representations from time-based forgetting. Participants memorized 6 locations selected from a grid of 30 scattered dots. Memory was tested after 1.5 or 4.5 s, and this interval was either blank or the grid remained onscreen (which is assumed to provide rehearsal support). In 2 experiments, we monitored eye movements during the retention phase, or asked participants to fixate the screen center. In 3 subsequent experiments, we tested spatial WM under dual-task conditions inhibiting shifts of visuospatial attention or central attention to the memoranda. Memory was better and more resistant to time-based forgetting in the grid than blank condition. Recording of fixations showed more frequent and efficient gaze-based rehearsal in the presence of the grid. Fixations toward distractor locations occurred at a similar frequency in the blank and grid conditions, and it did not predict incorrect recalls. Inhibition of eye-movements or shifts of visuospatial attention impaired memory overall, but it did not change the grid benefit nor the rate of time-based forgetting. In contrast, distracting central attention increased time-based forgetting regardless of grid presence. These results indicate that (a) the grid benefit is only partially explained by rehearsal; (b) gaze-errors (i.e., distractor fixations) do not lead to more forgetting; and (c) the maintenance of spatial representations over time depends on central processing.