Discrete fixed-resolution representations in visual working memory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

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.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-5
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume453
Issue number7192
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2008

Keywords

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