Cognition Workshop 11/01/23: William X. Q. Ngiam

Title: Towards an integrative framework on visual attention and working memory: a few pointers

William X. Q. Ngiam, postdoc in the Awh/Vogel lab, University of Chicago

Abstract: What is visual working memory (VWM)? Our growing field has many varying definitions, measures and models – so much so that I think researchers may be talking past each other. In this talk, I will share how I am trying to get researchers to rethinking the poorly defined theoretical framework in our field. I start off with my own work examining a long-standing debate – whether the units of representation in VWM are objects or features. With this, I illustrate that this binarized debate may not actually be grounded on fundamental theoretical differences. Then to help rethink these debates, I offer a ’theory map’ – a common space to discuss phenomena, compare models and integrate theories. I will end with some recent work from our lab pursuing an exciting novel mechanism – content-independent pointers – that has the potential to link cognitive and neural models of working memory. My hope is that this talk will inspire steps in our department towards slower empirical research with a focus on theory development.

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