Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Probing the Limits of Associative Memory

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Probing the Limits of Associative Memory

Article excerpt

ASSOCIATIVE MEMORY

Voss (2009). Long-term associative memory capacity in man. PB&R, 16, 1076.

An enduring question in psychology is what are the limits of memory retention. Estimates from forced choice picture recognition have suggested that the capacity of human visual memory is almost limitless (e.g., Brady et al., 2008, PNAS 105:14325). However, similar research has yet to be done on human associative memory capacity, an open territory into which Voss has made an initial foray. He investigated the performance of 1 subject (himself ) on a task designed to mimic an associative memory task used previously with baboons (Fagot & Cook, 2006, PNAS 103:17364) and pigeons (Cook et al., 2005, PB&R 12:350). In this task, 4,980 color photographs were randomly assigned a permanent association with a left or a right response. Each trial consisted of a forced choice between left and right buttons while a stimulus was presented on screen; the associations were learned via feedback to incorrect choices. Voss learned these stimuli in sessions in which the current learning set were presented on half the trials, and on the other half were randomly selected items from the previously learned stimuli. As each set was learned to a criterion of 85% correct responses, it was added to the growing body of previously learned associations. …

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