British Journal of Psychology

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Volume 110 Issue 2 (May 2019), Pages i-iv, 193-460

Two types of serial dependence in visual working memory (pages 256-267)

Stimulus representations in working memory depend on memory traces of past stimuli both from previous trials and from the current trial. However, it is unclear whether the same or different mechanisms underlie this serial dependence across and within trials. We directly contrasted estimates of bias for pairs of immediately successive stimuli across and within trials. In each trial, participants memorized two consecutive motion direction stimuli (S1 and S2) and after a short delay were cued to report one of them. We found serial dependence across trials: The current S1 was attracted towards the preceding S2 when the latter had been cued for report. In contrast, within the same trial S2 was repulsed from S1. In addition, repulsion within a trial occurred for a broader range of motion direction differences between stimuli than attraction across trials. A second experiment in which 25% of trials did not require a response demonstrated that across‐trial attraction did not depend on whether the previous S2 actually had to be reported. Our findings provide evidence for two types of serial dependence operating across and within trials. They support the notion of different mechanisms integrating or segregating current from similar past memory contents depending on their task relevance.

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