Discrete fixed-resolution representations in visual working memory

Weiwei Zhang, Steven J Luck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

887 Citations (Scopus)


Limits on the storage capacity of working memory significantly affect cognitive abilities in a wide range of domains, but the nature of these capacity limits has been elusive. Some researchers have proposed that working memory stores a limited set of discrete, fixed-resolution representations, whereas others have proposed that working memory consists of a pool of resources that can be allocated flexibly to provide either a small number of high-resolution representations or a large number of low-resolution representations. Here we resolve this controversy by providing independent measures of capacity and resolution. We show that, when presented with more than a few simple objects, human observers store a high-resolution representation of a subset of the objects and retain no information about the others. Memory resolution varied over a narrow range that cannot be explained in terms of a general resource pool but can be well explained by a small set of discrete, fixed-resolution representations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-5
Number of pages3
Issue number7192
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2008


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Color
  • Cues
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Mental Recall
  • Models, Neurological
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Perception


Dive into the research topics of 'Discrete fixed-resolution representations in visual working memory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this