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Atten Percept Psychophys. 2020 Feb 24. doi: 10.3758/s13414-020-01983-7. [Epub ahead of print]

Attribute amnesia can be modulated by foveal presentation and the pre-allocation of endogenous spatial attention.

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Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.


Even in sparse visual environments, observers may not be able to report features of objects they have just encountered in a surprise question. Attribute amnesia and seeing without knowing describe report failures for irrelevant features of objects that have been processed to some extent in the primary task. Both phenomena are attributed to the exclusive selection of relevant information for memory consolidation or for awareness, respectively. While attribute amnesia was found even for irrelevant attributes of the target in the primary task, seeing without knowing was not observed when a single object was presented foveally. To elucidate this discrepancy, we examined report failures for irrelevant attributes of single target objects, which were presented either in the fovea or in the periphery, and either at cued or uncued locations. On a surprise trial, observers were able to report the irrelevant shape and color of the target object when it was presented foveally. However, presenting the same object just slightly away from the fovea led to report failures for shape. Introducing a valid peripheral cue prior to target presentation reduced report failures for shape when the cue was predictive of the target location, suggesting that the pre-allocation of endogenous spatial attention promoted the processing of irrelevant shape information. In accordance with previous research, we suggest that these modulations are due to differences in late selection for conscious awareness or consolidation in working memory.


Attention and memory; Visual awareness; Visual working memory


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