Working memory (WM) has been thought to include not only short-term memory stores but also executive processes that operate on the contents of memory. The present study examined the involvement of WM in search using a dual-task paradigm in which participants performed visual search while manipulating or simply maintaining information held in WM. Experiments la and 2a involved executive WM tasks that required counting backward from a target digit and sorting a string of letters alphabetically, respectively. In both experiments, the search slopes in the dual-task condition were significantly steeper than those in a search-alone condition, indicating that performing the WM manipulation tasks influenced the efficiency of visual search. In contrast, when information was simply maintained in WM (Experiments 1b and 2b), search slopes did not differ between the single- and dual-task conditions. These results suggest that WM resources related to executive functions may be required in visual search.
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