Different Features are Stored Independently in Visual Working Memory but Mediated by Object-Based Representations

24 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2018

See all articles by Yuri Markov

Yuri Markov

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Natalia Tiurina

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Igor Utochkin

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: November 14, 2018

Abstract

The question whether visual working memory (VWM) stores individual features or bound objects as basic units is actively debated. Evidence exists for both feature-based and object-based storages, as well as hierarchically organized representations maintaining both types of information at different levels. One argument for feature-based storage is that features belonging to different dimensions (e.g., color and orientations) can be stored without interference suggesting independent capacities for every dimension. Here, whether the lack of cross-dimensional interference reflects genuinely independent feature storages or mediated by common objects. In three experiments, participants remembered and recalled the colors and orientations of sets of objects. We independently manipulated set sizes within each feature dimension (making colors and orientations either identical or differing across objects). Critically, we assigned to-be-remembered colors and orientations either to same spatially integrated or to different spatially separated objects. We found that the precision and recall probability within each dimension was not affected be set size manipulations in a different dimension when the features belonged to integrated objects. However, manipulations with color set sizes did affect orientation memory when the features were separated. We conclude therefore that different feature dimensions can be encoded and stored independently but the advantage of the independent storages are mediated at the object-based level. This conclusion is consistent with the idea of hierarchically organized VWM.

Keywords: visual working memory, features, objects, hierarchical encoding.

JEL Classification: Z

Suggested Citation

Markov, Yuri and Tiurina, Natalia and Utochkin, Igor, Different Features are Stored Independently in Visual Working Memory but Mediated by Object-Based Representations (November 14, 2018). Higher School of Economics Research Paper No. WP BRP 101/PSY/2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3284421 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3284421

Yuri Markov (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Natalia Tiurina

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Igor Utochkin

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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