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The Influence of Gestalt Principles of Grouping on Visual Working Memory Representations
AuthorPeterson, Dwight J.
AdvisorBerryhill, Marian E.
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Recent studies have demonstrated that bottom-up factors, such as Gestalt grouping cues, can influence the storage of information within visual working memory (VWM). However, the neural correlates underlying grouping-related benefits to VWM performance remain unclear. In the present experiments we introduced and manipulated Gestalt principles (Experiment 1: similarity and proximity) and related grouping cues (Experiments 2 and 3: uniform connectedness) in memory arrays presented during a VWM color change detection task. We monitored the number of representations being stored within VWM during the delay period by measuring the contralateral delay activity (CDA). In the current experiments, we observed both the presence (Experiment 1) and absence (Experiments 2 and 3) of grouped-related benefits to VWM performance. Grouping-related VWM performance benefits were accompanied by a reduction in CDA amplitude. However, when grouping-related benefits were absent, no reduction in CDA amplitude was apparent. The current findings indicate that, when grouping cues are effective, fewer neural resources are required to maintain grouped relative to ungrouped stimuli within VWM.