Jul 10, 2009

Practice-related improvement in working memory is modulated by changes in processing external interference

Journal of Neurophysiology
Anne S BerryA Gazzaley


Working memory (WM) performance is impaired by the presence of external interference. Accordingly, more efficient processing of intervening stimuli with practice may lead to enhanced WM performance. To explore the role of practice on the impact that interference has on WM performance, we studied young adults with electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings as they performed three motion-direction, delayed-recognition tasks. One task was presented without interference, whereas two tasks introduced different types of interference during the interval of memory maintenance: distractors and interruptors. Distractors were to be ignored, whereas interruptors demanded attention based on task instructions for a perceptual discrimination. We show that WM performance was disrupted by both types of interference, but interference-induced disruption abated across a single experimental session through rapid learning. WM accuracy and response time improved in a manner that was correlated with changes in early neural measures of interference processing in visual cortex (i.e., P1 suppression and N1 enhancement). These results suggest practice-related changes in processing interference exert a positive influence on WM performance, highlighting the i...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Space Perception
Immediate Recall
Reaction Time
Discrimination (Process of Differentiation)
Memory for Designs Test
Visual Evoked Cortical Potential
Visual Suppression
Motion Perception

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