The size of an attentional window affects working memory guidance.
Hernández M., Costa A., Humphreys GW.
We ask whether attentional guidance from working memory (WM) is influenced by the size of an attentional window. Participants adopted either a focused or a diffuse attentional window when responding to a search display. Prior to the search display an initial cue had to be held in memory (Experiment 1A, visual WM; Experiment 1C, verbal WM) or merely identified (Experiment 1B, identification). In all cases, search performance was affected by the re-presentation of the cue in the search display, with the cuing effects (either cost or benefit) being larger when the cue was held in memory than when it was merely identified. Critically, the magnitude of the cuing benefit increased when participants adopted a diffuse attentional window. This held for effects that are based on items held in WM and for effects that are based only on item priming. The results suggest that variations in the size of an attentional window modulate top-down (both WM conditions) as well as bottom-up guidance of attention (identification condition).