ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (9): 1608-1616.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2018.01608

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The role of working memory representation in visual search: The perspective of non-target template

LI Yangzhuo, YANG Xucheng, GAO Hong, GAO Xiangping*()   

  1. Department of Psychology, School of Education, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China
  • Received:2017-08-28 Online:2018-09-15 Published:2018-07-30
  • Contact: Xiangping GAO


The contents of visual working memory (VWM) have been repeatedly found to be linked with attention allocation during visual searching. While the target representation in working memory (target template) was found to affect memory-driven attentional capture in a top-down manner, non-target representation in working memory (non-target template) can also affect attentional selection. The present article reviews existing literature on the modulation of attentional selection by non-target template stored in visual working memory. It is concluded that non-target presentations can not only automatically bias attention to information that matches the non-target template, but also benefit visual search performance by strategically suppressing items that matches the non-target template. The suppression functions of non-target template were affected by several factors including experiment paradigm, task difficulty, characteristics of stimuli and level of cognitive control. Future research should be aimed towards further investigation of its properties and promote both basic and applied research.

Key words: selective attention, visual working memory, non-target template, attentional capture, attentional suppression

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