Title

Encoding into visual working memory: event-related brain potentials reflect automatic processing of seemingly redundant information

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Berti, S & Roeber, U 2013, 'Encoding into visual working memory: event-related brain potentials reflect automatic processing of seemingly redundant information', Neuroscience Journal, vol. 2013.

Article available on Online Access

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

Encoding and maintenance of information in visual working memory in an S1-S2 task with a 1500 ms retention phase were investigated by means of event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Participants were asked to decide whether two visual stimuli were physically identical (identity comparison (IC) task) or belonged to the same set or category of equivalent patterns (category comparison (CC) task). The stimuli differ with regard to two features. (1) Each pattern can belong to a set of either four (ESS 4) or eight (ESS 8) equivalent patterns, mirroring differences in the complexity with regard to the representational structure of each pattern (i.e., equivalence set size (ESS)). (2) The set of patterns differ with regard to the rated complexity. Memory performance obtained the effects of the task instructions (IC versus CC) and the ESS (ESS 4 versus ESS 8) but not of the rated complexity. ERPs in the retention interval reveal that the stimulus-related factors (subjective complexity and ESS) affect the encoding of the stimuli as mirrored by the pronounced P3b amplitude in ESS 8 compared to ESS 4 patterns. Importantly, these effects are independent of task instructions. The pattern of results suggests an automatic processing of the ESS in the encoding phase.