The Effects of Feature-Based Priming and Visual Working Memory on Oculomotor Capture

J.D. Silvis, A.V. Belopolsky, J.W. Murris, M. Donk

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Recently, it has been demonstrated that objects held in working memory can influence rapid oculomotor selection. This has been taken as evidence that perceptual salience can be modified by active working memory representations. The goal of the present study was to examine whether these results could also be caused by feature-based priming. In two experiments, participants were asked to saccade to a target line segment of a certain orientation that was presented together with a to-be-ignored distractor. Both objects were given a task-irrelevant color that varied per trial. In a secondary task, a color had to be memorized, and that color could either match the color of the target, match the color of the distractor, or it did not match the color of any of the objects in the search task. The memory task was completed either after the search task (Experiment 1), or before it (Experiment 2). The results showed that in both experiments the memorized color biased oculomotor selection. Eye movements were more frequently drawn towards objects that matched the memorized color, irrespective of whether the memory task was completed after (Experiment 1) or before (Experiment 2) the search task. This bias was particularly prevalent in short-latency saccades. The results show that early oculomotor selection performance is not only affected by properties that are actively maintained in working memory but also by those previously memorized. Both working memory and feature priming can cause early biases in oculomotor selection.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0142696
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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