Visual Working Memory Capacity and Proactive Interference

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Visual Working Memory Capacity and Proactive Interference

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Title: Visual Working Memory Capacity and Proactive Interference
Author: Hartshorne, Joshua
Citation: Hartshorne, Joshua K. 2008. Visual working memory capacity and proactive interference. PLoS ONE 3, no. 7: e2716.
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Abstract: Background: Visual working memory capacity is extremely limited and appears to be relatively immune to practice effects or the use of explicit strategies. The recent discovery that visual working memory tasks, like verbal working memory tasks, are subject to proactive interference, coupled with the fact that typical visual working memory tasks are particularly conducive to proactive interference, suggests that visual working memory capacity may be systematically under-estimated.
Methodology/Principal Findings: Working memory capacity was probed behaviorally in adult humans both in laboratory settings and via the Internet. Several experiments show that although the effect of proactive interference on visual working memory is significant and can last over several trials, it only changes the capacity estimate by about 15%.
Conclusions/Significance: This study further confirms the sharp limitations on visual working memory capacity, both in absolute terms and relative to verbal working memory. It is suggested that future research take these limitations into account in understanding differences across a variety of tasks between human adults, prelinguistic infants and nonlinguistic animals.
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