Visual working memory organization is subject to top-down control

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The limited capacity of visual working memory (VWM) can be maximized by combining multiple features into a single representation through grouping principles such as connection, proximity, and similarity. In this study, we sought to understand how VWM organizes information by investigating how connection and similarity cues are used either alone or in the presence of another grouping cue. Furthermore, we examined whether the use of one cue over another is within volitional control. Participants remembered displays of objects that contained no grouping cues, connection cues only, similarity cues only, or both connection and similarity cues. We found that it is possible to use either connection or similarity cues, although connection cues tend to dominate if the cues are in conflict with one another. However, it is possible to flexibly use either similarity or connection cues if both are present, depending on the task goals.

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Psychonomic bulletin & review

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