Jocelyn Tao

University of California, Santa Barbara

Analyzing Spatial Feature Prioritization in Visuospatial Working Memory Using Visual Cues and Mouse Clicking

Jocelyn Tao, Alison Li, Tommy Sprague

Visuospatial working memory (VSWM) is responsible for storing and processing information about the location and appearance of objects in the environment over brief interruptions in visual input. Despite its capacity constrictions (encoding only a limited number of items), VSWM’s role in behavior necessitates strategic neural resource allocation and item feature prioritization. Our focus is on examining the flexibility of spatial working memory in a delay estimation task, employing an informative response cue (tangential or radial information of the target location) signaled by a pre cue before target stimulus presentation. We hypothesize that one dimension of the VSWM representations can be flexibly prioritized with different pre cues. To test this, we assessed VSWM performance in human subjects using a spatial delayed estimation task with mouse clicking across a 2-D space. We predict a smaller memory error when provided with a pre cue versus compared to a no pre cue condition. Moreover, when pre cues are provided, prioritization of the other dimension of the spatial location (either tangential or radial) is expected, leading to smaller memory errors for the prioritized dimension. For example, participants might show enhanced performance for the tangential dimension when a pre cue indicates that the radial dimension will be given upon response. This investigation is essential to understanding how providing subjects with a cue can influence the quality of WM representations, affecting errors and decision-making behaviors related to spatial information in neurodegenerative disorders or simple everyday tasks like estimating the position of other cars on the highway.

NIH UC Santa Barbara Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships UCSB California NanoSystems Institute MCDB