The relationship between masking and short-term consolidation during recall from visual working memory

Timothy J. Ricker, Joshua Sandry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The presentation of a similar but irrelevant stimulus immediately following presentation of a memory item is called masking. Masking is known to reduce performance on working memory tests. This is the type of memory used to hold information in mind for brief periods of time for use in ongoing cognition. Two approaches to understanding masking effects have been proposed in different literatures. Working memory researchers often assume that the reduction in working memory performance after masking is because masking interferes with a transient sensory representation that is needed to complete consolidation into a working memory state. Researchers focused on the attentional blink, a finding that attention cannot be directed to new stimuli during working memory consolidation, have an alternative theory. Attentional blink researchers assume that masking slows the short-term consolidation process, thereby extending the length of the attentional blink. In two experiments, we contrast these two approaches to explaining masking effects and investigate the validity of both hypotheses. Some aspects of both approaches are validated, but neither theoretical perspective alone sufficiently explains the entire pattern of results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018


  • Consolidation
  • Interference
  • Masking
  • Short-term memory
  • Visual memory
  • Working memory


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