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Minimal use of working memory in a scene comparison task

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Eye movement behaviour in hand‐eye tasks suggests a preference for a “just in time” processing strategy that minimizes the use of working memory. In the present study, a scene comparison task was introduced to determine whether the preference holds when the task is primarily visual and when more complex naturalistic scenes are used as stimuli. In two experiments, participants made same or different judgements in response to simultaneously presented pairs of scenes that were identical or differed by one object. The number of fixations per scene glance and the number of fixations intervening between glances to corresponding objects suggest that frequently one object at a time is encoded and maintained in visual working memory. The same pattern of results was observed in a third experiment using word and object arrays. Overall, the results suggest a strong general bias toward minimal use of visual working memory in complex visual tasks.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

Publication date: 01 August 2005

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