The neural and cognitive mechanisms of spatial working memory are tightly coupled with the systems that control eye movements, but the precise nature of this coupling is not well understood. It has been argued that the oculomotor system is selectively involved in rehearsal of spatial but not visual material in visuospatial working memory. However, few studies have directly compared the effect of saccadic interference on visual and spatial memory, and there is little consensus on how the underlying working memory representation is affected by saccadic interference. In this study we aimed to examine how working memory for visual and spatial features is affected by overt and covert attentional interference across two experiments. Participants were shown a memory array, then asked to either maintain fixation or to overtly or covertly shift attention in a detection task during the delay period. Using the continuous report task we directly examined the precision of visual and spatial working memory representations and fit psychophysical functions to investigate the sources of recall error associated with different types of interference. These data were interpreted in terms of embodied theories of attention and memory and provide new insights into the nature of the interactions between cognitive and motor systems.
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