Attention facilitates the encoding (e.g., Awh, Anllo-Vento, & Hillyard, J Cognit Neurosci 12(5), 840–847, 2000) and maintenance of locations in spatial working memory (Awh, Vogel, & Oh, Atten, Percept Psychophys 78(4), 1043–1063, 2006). When individuals shift their attention during the maintenance period of a spatial working memory task, their memory of a target location tends to be biased in the direction of the attentional shift (Johnson & Spencer, 2016). Dynamic field theory predicts that in certain conditions, inhibitory mechanisms will result in biases away from distractors presented during the maintenance period of the task. Specifically, dynamic field theory predicts that memory responses will be biased toward distractors that are near the target location and biased away from distractors that are farther from the target location. In two experiments, the current study tested adults in a spatial memory task that required memorization of a single target location. On a subset of trials, a distractor appeared during the memory delay at different distances and directions from the target location. In contrast to the prediction, memory responses were biased away from distractors that were near the target location and not biased by distractors that were far from the target location, providing challenges for, dynamic field theory and other theories of spatial working memory.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)