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The Capacity and Structure of Visual Working Memory: Testing New Concepts

Miežytė, Aivilė (2019) The Capacity and Structure of Visual Working Memory: Testing New Concepts.

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Abstract:The capacity and structure of visual working memory (VWM) have become widely debated topics with a focus on two distinct theories: discrete-capacity and limited-resource models. The discrete-capacity object-based views conceptualise the capacity of VWM as a limited number of “slots”, each storing a single object encoded as a unitary item with all of its features. Once all the slots are filled, additional objects cannot be encoded. In contrast, limited-resource feature-based views hold that separate features rather than unitary objects are being encoded and that the capacity of VWM is not restricted to an upper limit of items. Instead, VWM capacity is conceptualised as a limited resource which is flexibly distributed among the items in the scene; the recall precision gradually decreases with the increase in the number of features. Discrete-capacity object-based views and limited-resource feature-based views were put to the test in the present study by using a delayed-estimation task. The participants were presented with a varied number of stimuli and asked to attend to their colour, orientation, or both. The precision of their recollections was measured. The results provide evidence against discretecapacity models and show that the recall precision is already imperfect under the previously proposed item limit. As expected according to limited-resource feature-based view, the precision continuously decreased when the set size was increased and varied depending on the attended feature. However, the unpredicted absence of a decrease in precision between orientation and colour and orientation conditions suggest that the concept of VWM having a single resource pool does not provide a complete explanation and point towards the existence of independent pools of resources for different features.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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