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ERPs and alpha oscillations track the encoding and maintenance of object-based representations in visual working memory
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  • Siyi Chen,
  • Thomas Toellner,
  • Hermann Mueller,
  • Markus Conci
Siyi Chen
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Thomas Toellner
Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
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Hermann Mueller
LMU munchen
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Markus Conci
Ludwig-Maximilians University
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Abstract

When memorizing an integrated object such as a Kanizsa figure, the completion of parts into a coherent whole is attained by grouping processes which render a whole-object representation in visual working memory (VWM). The present study measured event-related potentials (ERPs) and oscillatory amplitudes to track these processes of encoding and representing multiple features of an object in VWM. To this end, a change detection task was performed, which required observers to memorize both the orientations and colors of six ‘pacman’ items while inducing configurations of the pacmen that systematically varied in terms of their grouping strength. The results revealed an effect of object configuration in VWM despite physically constant visual input: change detection for both orientation and color features was more accurate with increased grouping strength. At the electrophysiological level, the lateralized ERPs and alpha activity mirrored this behavioral pattern. Perception of the orientation features gave rise to the encoding of a grouped object as reflected by the amplitudes of the PPC. The grouped object structure, in turn, modulated attention to both orientation and color features as indicated by the enhanced N1pc and N2pc. Finally, during item retention, the representation of individual objects and the concurrent allocation of attention to these memorized objects were modulated by grouping, as reflected by variations in the CDA amplitude and a concurrent lateralized alpha suppression, respectively. These results indicate that memorizing multiple features of grouped, to-be-integrated objects involves multiple, sequential stages of processing, providing support for a hierarchical model of object representations in VWM.
07 Jun 2023Submitted to Psychophysiology
08 Jun 2023Assigned to Editor
08 Jun 2023Submission Checks Completed
08 Jun 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
19 Jun 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
07 Sep 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor