Task-dependent transfer of perceptual to memory representations during delayed spatial frequency discrimination

Jasmin Lalonde, Avi Chaudhuri
Vision Research 2002, 42 (14): 1759-69
Discrimination thresholds were obtained using a delayed spatial frequency discrimination task. In Experiment 1, we found that presentation of a mask 3 s before onset of a reference Gabor patch caused a selective, spatial frequency dependent interference in a subsequent discrimination task. However, a 10 s interval abolished this masking effect. In Experiment 2, the mask was associated with a second spatial frequency discrimination task so that a representation of the mask had to be coded into short-term perceptual memory. This experiment was performed to assess whether absence of masking in the 10 s condition of Experiment 1 might be due to decay of the mask information in the perceptual or the memory representational domain. The presence of this second discrimination task now caused similar interference effects on the primary discrimination task at both the 3 s and 10 s interstimulus intervals (ISI) conditions. Finally, to test the robustness of the masking effect, the nature of the secondary masking task was changed from a spatial frequency discrimination task to an orientation discrimination task in Experiment 3. The masking effect was now abolished in both the 3 and 10 s ISI conditions. Together, the results from these experiments are consistent with the idea of a two-level perceptual memory mechanism. The results also suggest that stimulus representations during a perceptual discrimination task are shared between the perceptual and memory representation domains in a task-dependent manner.

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