Working memory capacity affects trade-off between quality and quantity only when stimulus exposure duration is sufficient: Evidence for the two-phase model Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractThe relation between visual working memory (VWM) capacity and attention has attracted much interest. In this study, we investigated the correlation between the participants’ VWM capacity and their ability to voluntarily trade off the precision and number of items remembered. The two-phase resource allocation model proposed by Ye et al. (2017) suggests that for a given set size, it takes a certain amount of consolidation time for an individual to control attention to adjust the VWM resources to trade off the precision and number. To verify whether trade-off ability varies across VWM capacity, we measured each individual’s VWM capacity and then conducted a colour recall task to examine their trade-off ability. By manipulating the task requirement, participants were instructed to memorise either more colours in a low-precision way or fewer colours in a high-precision way. We conducted two experiments by adjusting stimulus duration to be longer than predicted critical value (Experiment 1) and duration shorter than predicted critical value (Experiment 2). While the results of Experiment 1 showed a positive correlation between the VWM capacity and trade-off ability, the results of Experiment 2 showed a lack of such correlation. These results are consistent with the prediction from the two-phase model.


  • Ye, Chaoxiong
  • Sun, Hongjin
  • Xu, Qianru
  • Liang, Tengfei
  • Zhang, Yin
  • Liu, Qiang

publication date

  • June 19, 2019