Feature-based attentional weighting and spreading in visual working memory.
Niklaus M., Nobre AC., van Ede F.
Attention can be directed at features and feature dimensions to facilitate perception. Here, we investigated whether feature-based-attention (FBA) can also dynamically weight feature-specific representations within multi-feature objects held in visual working memory (VWM). Across three experiments, participants retained coloured arrows in working memory and, during the delay, were cued to either the colour or the orientation dimension. We show that directing attention towards a feature dimension (1) improves the performance in the cued feature dimension at the expense of the uncued dimension, (2) is more efficient if directed to the same rather than to different dimensions for different objects, and (3) at least for colour, automatically spreads to the colour representation of non-attended objects in VWM. We conclude that FBA also continues to operate on VWM representations (with similar principles that govern FBA in the perceptual domain) and challenge the classical view that VWM representations are stored solely as integrated objects.