Updating visual working memory in the change detection paradigm

Yoav Kessler, Rachel Rac-Lubashevsky, Carmel Lichtstein, Hadar Markus, Almog Simchon, Morris Moscovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


An updating version of a visual change detection paradigm was used to investigate the behavioral outcomes and event-related potential (ERP) correlates of visual working memory updating. In each trial, participants were either presented with a memory array followed by a test probe, or with two successive memory arrays. Participants were instructed to update their working memory with the information in the second array. The second array differed from the first one in all, some, or none of the items. When a subset of the items was updated, the probe could appear in the location of a repeated item or of an updated item. Two experiments are reported, using set-sizes of six and two items, respectively. Both experiments show a benefit for probing a repeated item compared to an updated item. This result is consistent with an item-specific updating process. Experiment 2 also revealed two distinct updating-related ERP components, observed in both contralateral and ipsilateral visual hemifields. Frontal electrodes were sensitive to the number of changed items in the array. This ERP component was interpreted as reflecting the modification of information in working memory. Lateralposterior electrodes only showed a difference between a full repetition of the array and updating, regardless of the number of updated items. This component was interpreted as reflecting attention to task-relevant information rather than the updating process per se. The finding of item-specific updating supports discrete-item architecture models of working memory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Event-related potentials
  • Updating
  • Visual working memory
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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