Visual working memory has been proven to be relatively robust against interference. However, little is known on whether such robust coding is obligatory, or can be flexibly recruited depending on its expected usefulness. To address this, participants remembered both the color and orientation of a grating. During the maintenance, we inserted a secondary color/orientation memory task, interfering with the primary task. Crucially, we varied the expectations of the type of interference by varying the probability of the two types of intervening task. Behavioral data indicate that to-be-remembered features for which interference is expected are bolstered, whereas to-be-remembered features for which no interference is expected are left vulnerable. This was further supported by fMRI data obtained from visual cortex. In conclusion, the flexibility of visual working memory allows it to strengthen memories for which it anticipates the highest risk of interference.

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