What not to look for: Electrophysiological evidence that searchers prefer positive templates

Rajsic, Jason, Carlisle, Nancy B. and Woodman, Geoffrey F. (2020) What not to look for: Electrophysiological evidence that searchers prefer positive templates. Neuropsychologia, 140. p. 107376. ISSN 0028-3932

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.10...


To-be-attended information can be specified either with positive cues (I'll be wearing a blue shirt) or with negative cues (I won't be wearing a red shirt). Numerous experiments have found that positive cues help search more than negative cues. Given that negative cues produce smaller benefits compared to positive cues, it stands to reason that searchers may choose to use positive templates instead of negative templates if given the opportunity. Here, we evaluate this possibility with behavioral measures as well as by directly measuring the formation of positive and negative templates with event-related potentials. Analysis of the contralateral delay activity (CDA) elicited by cues revealed that positive and negative templates relied on working memory to the same extent, even when negative working memory templates could have been circumvented by relying on long-term memories of target colors. Whereas the CDA did not discriminate positive and negative templates, a CNV-like potential did, suggesting cognitive differences between positive and negative templates beyond visual working memory. However, when both positive and negative information were presented in each cue, participants preferred to make use of the positive cues, as indicated by a CDA contralateral to the positive color in negative cue blocks, and a lack of search benefits for positive- and negative-color cues relative to positive-color cues alone. Our results show that searchers elect to selectively encode only positive information into visual working memory when both positive and negative information are available.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Visual search, Attention, Working memory, Event-related potentials
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2020 14:30
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 14:48
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/42684

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