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Selective storage and maintenance of an object’s features in visual working memory

Abstract

It has been shown that we have a highly capacity-limited representational space with which to store objects in visual working memory. However, most objects are composed of multiple feature attributes, and it is unknown whether observers can voluntarily store a single attribute of an object without necessarily storing all of its remaining features. In this study, we used a masking paradigm to measure the efficiency of encoding, and neurophysiological recordings to directly measure visual working memory maintenance while subjects viewed multifeature objects and were required to remember only a single feature or all of the features of the objects. We found that measures of both encoding and maintenance varied systematically as a function of which object features were task relevant. These experiments show that individuals can control which features of an object are selectively stored in working memory.

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Correspondence to Geoffrey F. Woodman.

Additional information

This research was supported by National Research Service Award F32-EY015043 and a Vanderbilt University Discovery Grant to G.F.W. and NSF Grant BCS-0617681 to E.K.V.

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Woodman, G.F., Vogel, E.K. Selective storage and maintenance of an object’s features in visual working memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 15, 223–229 (2008). https://doi.org/10.3758/PBR.15.1.223

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Keywords

  • Stimulus Onset Asynchrony
  • Retention Interval
  • Rapid Serial Visual Presentation
  • Visual Working Memory
  • Color Condition