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Open AccessArticle

High Working Memory Capacity at the Cost of Precision?

1
German Centre of Neurodegenerative Diseases, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
2
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-University, 10117 Berlin, Germany
3
Leibniz-Institute for Neurobiology, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
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Department of Neurology, Otto-von-Guericke University, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
5
Center for Behavioral Brain Sciences (CBBS), 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(9), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9090210
Received: 5 July 2019 / Revised: 10 August 2019 / Accepted: 19 August 2019 / Published: 21 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Cognitive Neuroscience)
Working memory capacity (WMC) varies tremendously among individuals. Here, we investigate the possibility that subjects with high WMC use this limited resource more efficiently by reducing the precision with which they store information in demanding tasks. Task difficulty was increased by (a) presenting more objects to be memorized, (b) informing subjects only after the encoding phase about the relevant objects, and (c) delivering distracting features at retrieval. Precision was assessed by means of a continuous delayed-estimation task, in which object features had to be estimated from memory. High WMC subjects did not show a stronger drop in precision in difficult tasks. Instead, a positive correlation between precision and general WMC emerged. These findings suggest that high WMC subjects do not necessarily trade in quantity for quality when forming working memory (WM) representations under increasing demand. Instead, they seem to be able to devote more cognitive resources to support WM storage. View Full-Text
Keywords: working memory capacity; precision; attention working memory capacity; precision; attention
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Vellage, A.-K.; Müller, P.; Schmicker, M.; Hopf, J.-M.; Müller, N.G. High Working Memory Capacity at the Cost of Precision? Brain Sci. 2019, 9, 210.

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