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Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science.

Object-Based Attention Without Awareness

Liam J. Norman, Charles A. Heywood, and Robert W. Kentridge

Attentional selection can facilitate the processing of basic properties of unseen stimuli; however, it is still unknown whether this selection extends to more complex properties of stimuli. Participants performed a task in which a cue appeared inside one of two rectangles that were masked from their conscious attention. After the cue, a target appeared in one of the masked rectangles. Participants processed targets appearing within the same rectangle as the cue more rapidly than they processed targets in the other rectangle. This suggests that the engagement of attention is not sufficient for awareness.

A Common Discrete Resource for Visual Working Memory and Visual Search

David E. Anderson, Edward K. Vogel, and Edward Awh

Models describing visual searches presume that those with a greater working memory (WM) capacity should search more efficiently; however, studies examining this correlation have had mixed results. In a series of experiments, participants completed a visual search task and a WM task. The researchers found evidence of a correlation between WM capacity and visual search efficiency and also found that visual search efficiency is constrained by an item limit. These findings provide support for the link between WM and search efficiency and provide a key boundary to observing this relationship.

Reduced Temporal Fusion in Near-Hand Space

Stephanie C. Goodhew, Davood G. Gozli, Susanne Ferber, and Jay Pratt

Object-substitution masking (OSM) is thought to reflect an error in object individuation. In this study, the researchers examined whether placing OSM-task targets near the hand — an area with prioritized attentional processing — would reduce the masking effect seen in OSM. The researchers manipulated participants’ hand positions while they completed an OSM task. Placing the participants’ hands near the stimuli reduced the magnitude of the masking effect, indicating that object individuation can be enhanced by increasing the temporal resolution of stimuli.

Serial Consolidation of Orientation Information Into Visual Short-Term Memory

Taosheng Liu and Mark W. Becker

There is a limit on the rate at which information can be incorporated into visual short-term memory (VSTM), but researchers are unsure whether this limit is due to serial or limited-capacity parallel processes. Participants performed an orientation-recall task in which they were shown a single stimulus or two stimuli — presented sequentially or simultaneously. The researchers fit a serial model and a parallel model to the observed data and found the serial model to be a better fit, suggesting that the limit on VSTM is serial.