Date of Award
Department or Program
Psychological and Brain Sciences
Prominent theories of visual working memory postulate that the capacity to maintain a particular visual feature is fixed. In contrast to these theories, recent studies have demonstrated that meaningful objects are better remembered than simple, non-meaningful stimuli. Here, we test whether this is solely because meaningful stimuli can recruit additional features — and thus more storage capacity — or whether simple visual features that are not themselves meaningful can also benefit from being part of a meaningful object. Across five experiments (each N=30) we demonstrate that visual working memory capacity for color is increased when colors are part of recognizable real-world objects compared to unrecognizable objects. Our results indicate that meaningful stimuli provide a potent scaffold to help maintain simple visual feature information, possibly because they effectively increase the objects’ distinctiveness from each other and reduce interference.
Chung, Y., Brady, T., & Stoermer, V. (2023). No fixed limit for storing simple visual features: Realistic objects provide an efficient scaffold for holding features in mind. Psychological Science
Chung, Yong Hoon, "No fixed limit for storing simple visual features: Realistic objects provide an efficient scaffold for holding features in mind" (2023). Dartmouth College Master’s Theses. 117.
Available for download on Wednesday, March 05, 2025