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Effects of the identity and load of items in working memory (WM) on visual attention were examined. With a short interval between the WM item and a subsequent search task, there were effects of both load (slowed overall reaction times, RTs, in a WM condition relative to a mere repetition baseline) and identity (search RTs were affected by re-presentation of the item in WM in the search display). As the time to encode the initial display increased, the effects of load decreased while the effect of identity remained. The data indicate that the identity of stimuli in WM can affect the subsequent deployment of attention even when time is allowed for consolidation of the stimuli in WM, and that the WM effects are not causally related to the presence of cognitive load. The results are consistent with the identity of stimuli in WM modulating attention post the memory consolidation stage.

Original publication




Journal article


Q J Exp Psychol (Hove)

Publication Date





1475 - 1483


Adult, Attention, Cues, Female, Humans, Male, Memory, Short-Term, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Reaction Time, Young Adult