Visual working memory capacity for color is independent of representation resolution

Chaoxiong Ye, Lingcong Zhang, Taosheng Liu, Hong Li, Qiang Liu
PloS One 2014, 9 (3): e91681

BACKGROUND: The relationship between visual working memory (VWM) capacity and resolution of representation have been extensively investigated. Several recent ERP studies using orientation (or arrow) stimuli suggest that there is an inverse relationship between VWM capacity and representation resolution. However, different results have been obtained in studies using color stimuli. This could be due to important differences in the experimental paradigms used in previous studies.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We examined whether the same relationship between capacity and resolution holds for color information. Participants performed a color change detection task while their electroencephalography was recorded. We manipulated representation resolution by asking participants to detect either a salient change (low-resolution) or a subtle change (high-resolution) in color. We used an ERP component known as contralateral delay activity (CDA) to index the amount of information maintained in VWM. The result demonstrated the same pattern for both low- and high-resolution conditions, with no difference between conditions.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This result suggests that VWM always represents a fixed number of approximately 3-4 colors regardless of the resolution of representation.

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