Working Memory Is Not Fixed-Capacity: More Active Storage Capacity for Real-World Objects Than for Simple Stimuli
Brady, Timothy F.
Störmer, Viola S.
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CitationBrady, Timothy F, Viola S Störmer, and George A Alvarez. "Working Memory Is Not Fixed-capacity: More Active Storage Capacity for Real-world Objects than for Simple Stimuli." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113, no. 27 (2016): 7459-7464.
AbstractVisual working memory is the cognitive system that holds visual information active to make it resistant to interference from new perceptual input. Information about simple stimuli—colors and orientations—is encoded into working memory rapidly: In under 100 ms, working memory ‟fills up,” revealing a stark capacity limit. However, for real-world objects, the same behavioral limits do not hold: With increasing encoding time, people store more real-world objects and do so with more detail. This boost in performance for real-world objects is generally assumed to reflect the use of a separate episodic long-term memory system, rather than working memory. Here we show that this behavioral increase in capacity with real-world objects is not solely due to the use of separate episodic long-term memory systems. In particular, we show that this increase is a result of active storage in working memory, as shown by directly measuring neural activity during the delay period of a working memory task using EEG. These data challenge fixed-capacity working memory models and demonstrate that working memory and its capacity limitations are dependent upon our existing knowledge.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41302419
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