Mechanisms of feature binding in visual working memory are stable over long delays
The ability to accurately retain the binding between the features of different objects is a critical element of visual working memory. The underlying mechanism can be elucidated by analyzing correlations of response errors in dual-report experiments, in which participants have to report two features of a single item from a previously viewed stimulus array. Results from separate previous studies using different cuing conditions have indicated that location takes a privileged role in mediating binding between other features, in that largely independent response errors have been observed when location was used as a cue, but errors were highly correlated when location was one of the reported features. Earlier results from change detection tasks likewise support such a special role of location, but they also suggest that this role is substantially reduced for longer retention intervals in favor of object-based representation. In the present study, we replicated the findings of previous dual-report tasks with different cueing conditions, using matched stimuli and procedures. Moreover, we show that the observed patterns of error correlations remain qualitatively unchanged with longer retention intervals. Fits with neural population models demonstrate that the behavioral results at long, as well as short, delays are best explained by memory representations in independent feature maps, in which an item's features are bound to each other only via their shared location.
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