Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 215–222

Perceptual expertise enhances the resolution but not the number of representations in working memory

Brief Reports

DOI: 10.3758/PBR.15.1.215

Cite this article as:
Scolari, M., Vogel, E.K. & Awh, E. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2008) 15: 215. doi:10.3758/PBR.15.1.215


Despite its central role in cognition, capacity in visual working memory is restricted to about three or four items. Curby and Gauthier (2007) examined whether perceptual expertise can help to overcome this limit by enabling more efficient coding of visual information. In line with this, they observed higher capacity estimates for upright than for inverted faces, suggesting that perceptual expertise enhances visual working memory. In the present work, we examined whether the improved capacity estimates for upright faces indicates an increased number of “slots” in working memory, or improved resolution within the existing slots. Our results suggest that perceptual expertise enhances the resolution but not the number of representations that can be held in working memory. These results clarify the effects of perceptual expertise in working memory and support recent suggestions that number and resolution represent distinct facets of working memory ability.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OregonEugene

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