Researchers have aimed to better understand the capacity limits and boundaries of working memory (WM) for decades. With a growing body of literature, researchers have started to direct their focus to identifying and understanding specific processes of WM. Information enters WM and is processed differently based on bottom-up (i.e., feature-driven) and top-down (i.e., task-driven) processes. Specifically, the current dissertation aimed to better understand how task-relevant and irrelevant information is maintained, selection, and prioritized in WM. In Chapter 1, we explored how the maintenance of task-relevant information in WM impacts the maintenance of task-irrelevant information. During a hybrid search task, participants were occasionally tested for their memory of distractors in the search array. Results suggest that the amount of task-relevant information maintained in memory does not impact the maintenance of task-irrelevant information. The goal of Chapter 2 was to better understand how information is selected into WM and how task-relevancy and stimulus features impact selection. In a change detection task, participants were presented with arrays containing repeated features and required to search for one type of feature change, while ignoring the other. ERP results confirmed that the task-irrelevant feature was not selected during comparison in WM. Finally, in Chapter 3, the prioritization of information in WM was tested by using a retro-cue change detection task. Here, we reported an unreliable retro-cue effect (RCE) across five experiments. These results suggest that how information and cues are encoded can impact the ability to prioritize task-relevant information. Overall, the current dissertation advances our knowledge of the specific processes involved in WM.
Saltzmann, Stephanie M., "The Processing of Task-Relevant and Task-Irrelevant Information in Working Memory" (2023). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 6232.
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