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A Spatially Continuous Diffusion Model of Visual Working Memory

Roger Ratcliff
The Ohio State University ~ Psychology
Mr. Alex Fennell
The Ohio State University ~ Psychology

I present results from four or five visual working memory (VWM) experiments in which subjects were briefly shown between 2 and 6 colored squares. They were then cued to recall the color of one of the squares and they responded by choosing the color on a continuous color wheel. The experiments provided response proportions and response time (RT) measures as a function of angle for the choices. Current VWM models for this task include discrete models that assume an item is either within working memory or not and resource models that assume that memory strength varies as a function of the number of items. Because these models do not include processes that allow them to account for RT data, we implemented them within the spatially continuous diffusion model (SCDM, Ratcliff, 2018) and use the experimental data to evaluate these combined models. In the SCDM, evidence retrieved from memory is represented as a spatially continuous normal distribution and this drives the decision process until a criterion (represented as a 1-D line) is reached, which produces a decision. Noise in the accumulation process is represented by continuous Gaussian process noise over spatial position. The models that fit best from the discrete and resource-based classes converged on a common model that had a guessing/zero evidence component (a zero-drift process) and that allowed the height of the normal memory- strength distribution to vary with number of items. The combination of choice and RT data allows models that were not identifiable based on choice data alone to be discriminated.



Visual working memory
spatially continuous diffusion model
response time

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Cite this as:

Ratcliff, R., & Fennell, A. (2023, July). A Spatially Continuous Diffusion Model of Visual Working Memory. Abstract published at MathPsych/ICCM/EMPG 2023. Via