Gözenman F, Tanoue RT, Metoyer T, Berryhill ME (2014). Invalid retrocues can eliminate the retrocue benefit: Evidence for a hybridized account. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40(5):1748-54.
[ DOI: 10.1037/a0037474. PMCID: PMC4172509. ]
The contents of visual working memory (VWM) are capacity limited and require frequent updating. The retrospective cueing (retro-cueing) paradigm clarifies how directing internal attention among VWM items boosts VWM performance. In this paradigm a cue appears prior to retrieval, but after encoding and maintenance. The retro-cue effect (RCE) refers to superior VWM after valid versus neutral retro-cues. Here we investigated the effect of the invalid retro-cues’ inclusion on VWM performance. We conducted 2 pairs of experiments, changing both probe type (recognition and recall) as well as presence and absence of invalid retro-cue trials. Furthermore, to fully characterize these effects over time, we used extended post-retro-cue delay durations. In the first set of experiments, probing VWM using recognition indicated that the RCE remained consistent in magnitude with or without invalid retro-cue trials. In the second set of experiments, VWM was probed with recall. Here, the RCE was eliminated when invalid retro-cues were included. This finer-grained measure of VWM fidelity showed that all items were subject to decay over time. We conclude that the invalid retro-cues impaired the protection of validly cues items, but they remain accessible, suggesting greater concordance with a prioritization account.