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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2001 Feb;27(1):92-114.

Storage of features, conjunctions and objects in visual working memory.

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Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, USA.


Working memory can be divided into separate subsystems for verbal and visual information. Although the verbal system has been well characterized, the storage capacity of visual working memory has not yet been established for simple features or for conjunctions of features. The authors demonstrate that it is possible to retain information about only 3-4 colors or orientations in visual working memory at one time. Observers are also able to retain both the color and the orientation of 3-4 objects, indicating that visual working memory stores integrated objects rather than individual features. Indeed, objects defined by a conjunction of four features can be retained in working memory just as well as single-feature objects, allowing many individual features to be retained when distributed across a small number of objects. Thus, the capacity of visual working memory must be understood in terms of integrated objects rather than individual features.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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