Indirect Assessment of Visual Working Memory for Simple and Complex Objects

By Makovski, Tal; Jiang, Yuhong V. | Memory & Cognition, September 2008 | Go to article overview

Indirect Assessment of Visual Working Memory for Simple and Complex Objects


Makovski, Tal, Jiang, Yuhong V., Memory & Cognition


Previous research has shown that visual search performance is modulated by the current contents in visual working memory (VWM), even when the contents of VWM are irrelevant to the search task. For example, visual search is faster when the target-rather than a distractor-is surrounded by a shape currently held in VWM. This study uses the modulation of visual search by VWM to investigate properties of VWM. Participants were asked to remember the color or the shape of novel polygons whose "goodness" of figure varied according to Garner's (1962) rotation and reflection transformation principle. During the memory retention interval, participants searched for a tilted line among vertical lines embedded inside colored polygons. Search was faster when the target-rather than a distractor-was enclosed by the remembered polygons. The congruity effect diminished with increasing memory load and decreasing figure goodness. We conclude that congruity effects in visual search can indirectly assess VWM representation strength.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formula omitted.)

Many everyday tasks require us to buffer visual information for a few seconds after its disappearance. For example, when crossing a busy street, we must look left and right and remember momentary traffic conditions before deciding to cross. In team sports, players often need to remember the positioning of teammates and opponents in order to determine their next movement. The brief buffering and manipulation of visual information relies on visual working memory (VWM): an online memory that is important for maintaining temporal continuity. In the laboratory, VWM is often operationally defined by performance in a short-term, change-detection task in which observers judge whether two visual displays separated by a few seconds of retention interval are the same or different (Luck & Vogel, 1997; Pashler, 1988; Phillips, 1974; Rensink, 2002). Using this procedure, researchers have found that the capacity of VWM is no more than three or four objects (Alvarez & Cavanagh, 2004; Luck & Vogel, 1997; Olsson & Poom, 2005) and that the measured capacity varies for different visual attributes, such as colors, gabor patches, random polygons, and faces (Alvarez & Cavanagh, 2004; Eng, Chen, & Jiang, 2005; Olsson & Poom, 2005).

Although the change detection task has become the standard procedure for the assessment of VWM, several criticisms have been raised in regard to this task (Hollingworth, 2003; Landman, Spekreijse, & Lamme, 2003; Makovski, Sussman, & Jiang, 2008). Moreover, by inducing participants to remember information for the sake of producing a memory, the task takes a "static approach" toward working memory. This approach can be contrasted with everyday vision tasks, where working memory is often used dynamically. For example, Hayhoe and colleagues (Ballard, Hayhoe, & Pelz, 1995; Droll, Hayhoe, Triesch, & Sullivan, 2005; Hayhoe & Ballard, 2005) found that during visually guided motor tasks-such as picking up a blue block and placing it at a designated location-participants usually do not fill up their VWM capacity. Instead, they prefer to keep a single piece of information in VWM at once and look back at a display again when more information is needed. Thus, it is important that we assess the characteristics of VWM during online perception, which may differ from those of VWM in an idealized change-detection task.

Recent research by Soto, Downing, Woodman, and colleagues has revealed important interactions between VWM and online perception (Downing, 2000; Downing & Dodds, 2004; Soto, Heinke, Humphreys, & Blanco, 2005; Soto, Humphreys, & Heinke, 2006; Woodman & Luck, 2004, 2007; Woodman, Vogel, & Luck, 2001). For example, VWM can influence visual search when the contents of VWM are both relevant and irrelevant to the search task. Holding the exact target template in VWM and searching for that object results in faster search speed, in comparison with holding a general description of the target in working memory (Vickery, King, & Jiang, 2005; Wolfe, Butcher, Lee, & Hyle, 2003). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Indirect Assessment of Visual Working Memory for Simple and Complex Objects
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.