Selective mechanisms allow us to prioritize items held in working memory. Does this reflect reallocation of working memory resources? We examined a critical prediction of this account—that reallocating more resources from one item to another should provide a greater benefit. We used a reward manipulation to create variable allocation of resources. Subsequently, a retro-cue instructed participants to drop a memory item. This retro-cue improved performance for the prioritized items relative to a neutral baseline. However, in contrast to the prevailing reallocation account, we found no difference between dropping a higher versus lower reward item. Importantly, removal of high versus low reward items led to better encoding of subsequently presented items, demonstrating that our reward manipulation was successful. While allocation of resources can influence the encoding and storage of new information into working memory, reallocation does not appear to be essential for selection effects in working memory.
- Visual working memory
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Language and Linguistics
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Linguistics and Language
- Cognitive Neuroscience