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ERIC Number: EJ1124795
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Jan
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
The Role of Long-Term Memory in a Test of Visual Working Memory: Proactive Facilitation but No Proactive Interference
Oberauer, Klaus; Awh, Edward; Sutterer, David W.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v43 n1 p1-22 Jan 2017
We report 4 experiments examining whether associations in visual working memory are subject to proactive interference from long-term memory (LTM). Following a long-term learning phase in which participants learned the colors of 120 unique objects, a working memory (WM) test was administered in which participants recalled the precise colors of 3 concrete objects in an array. Each array in the WM test consisted of 1 old (previously learned) object with a new color (old-mismatch), 1 old object with its old color (old-match), and 1 new object. Experiments 1 to 3 showed that WM performance was better in the old-match condition than in the new condition, reflecting a beneficial contribution from LTM. In the old-mismatch condition, participants sometimes reported colors associated with the relevant shape in LTM, but the probability of successful recall was equivalent to that in the new condition. Thus, information from LTM only intruded in the absence of reportable information in WM. Experiment 4 tested for, and failed to find, proactive interference from the preceding trial in the WM test: Performance in the old-mismatch condition, presenting an object from the preceding trial with a new color, was equal to performance with new objects. Experiment 5 showed that long-term memory for object-color associations is subject to proactive interference. We conclude that the exchange of information between LTM and WM appears to be controlled by a gating mechanism that protects the contents of WM from proactive interference but admits LTM information when it is useful.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institute of Mental Health (DHHS/NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Switzerland
Grant or Contract Numbers: 2R01MH08721406A1