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Data from: The competitive influences of perceptual load and working memory guidance on selective attention

Cite this dataset

Tan, Jinfeng et al. (2016). Data from: The competitive influences of perceptual load and working memory guidance on selective attention [Dataset]. Dryad.


The perceptual load theory in selective attention literature proposes that the interference from task-irrelevant distractor is eliminated when perceptual capacity is fully consumed by task-relevant information. However, the biased competition model suggests that the contents of working memory (WM) can guide attentional selection automatically, even when this guidance is detrimental to visual search. An intriguing but unsolved question is what will happen when selective attention is influenced by both perceptual load and WM guidance. To study this issue, behavioral performances and event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded when participants were presented with a cue to either identify or hold in memory and had to perform a visual search task subsequently, under conditions of low or high perceptual load. Behavioural data showed that high perceptual load eliminated the attentional capture by WM. The ERP results revealed an obvious WM guidance effect in P1 component with invalid trials eliciting larger P1 than neutral trials, regardless of the level of perceptual load. The interaction between perceptual load and WM guidance was significant for the posterior N1 component. The memory guidance effect on N1 was eliminated by high perceptual load. Standardized Low Resolution Electrical Tomography Analysis (sLORETA) showed that the WM guidance effect and the perceptual load effect on attention can be localized into the occipital area and parietal lobe, respectively. Merely identifying the cue produced no effect on the P1 or N1 component. These results suggest that in selective attention, the information held in WM could capture attention at the early stage of visual processing in the occipital cortex. Interestingly, this initial capture of attention by WM could be modulated by the level of perceptual load and the parietal lobe mediates target selection at the discrimination stage.

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