Activating our "Visual RAM" for Multitasking: does Visual Working Memory bias Visual Attention with multiple items and human emotions?
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Visual Working Memory (VWM) drives and influences our everyday visual search. VWM search templates (temporary mental representations of specific items) can bias our Visual Attention; however, we do not know yet if two search templates can bias visual search at the same time. In this study, we investigate how VWM biases visual attention with multiple colors and human emotions in a computer screen task. We measured microsaccades with an eye tracker to track covert attention. We ran two Rapid Serial Visual Stimulation (RSVP) visual search tasks where we asked participants to memorize two color stimuli in the first experiment, and two human emotional faces in the second. We probed both memorized items during the RSVP stimuli presentation together with distractors. Results show a VWM biasing effect on visual attention with two items, but not time-specific; both items biased attention in the same way when both were probed in the same trials. Furthermore, we observed that the attentional bias for emotional faces is stronger for only one template when both were probed in the same trials. Thus, we concluded that two VWM search templates (i.e., colors) can bias attention at the same time, and that there is a stronger bias for only one template after memorizing two emotional faces at the same time.