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Auditory memory can be object based

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Identifying how memories are organized remains a fundamental issue in psychology. Previous work has shown that visual short-term memory is organized according to the object of origin, with participants being better at retrieving multiple pieces of information from the same object than from different objects. However, it is not yet clear whether similar memory structures are employed for other modalities, such as audition. Under analogous conditions in the auditory domain, we found that short-term memories for sound can also be organized according to object, with a same-object advantage being demonstrated for the retrieval of information in an auditory scene defined by two complex sounds overlapping in both space and time. Our results provide support for the notion of an auditory object, in addition to the continued identification of similar processing constraints across visual and auditory domains. The identification of modality-independent organizational principles of memory, such as object-based coding, suggests possible mechanisms by which the human processing system remembers multimodal experiences.

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Correspondence to Benjamin J. Dyson.

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Dyson, B.J., Ishfaq, F. Auditory memory can be object based. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 15, 409–412 (2008).

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