Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 76, Issue 7, pp 1902–1913 | Cite as

Asymmetrical access to color and location in visual working memory

  • Jason Rajsic
  • Daryl E. Wilson


Models of visual working memory (VWM) have benefitted greatly from the use of the delayed-matching paradigm. However, in this task, the ability to recall a probed feature is confounded with the ability to maintain the proper binding between the feature that is to be reported and the feature (typically location) that is used to cue a particular item for report. Given that location is typically used as a cue-feature, we used the delayed-estimation paradigm to compare memory for location to memory for color, rotating which feature was used as a cue and which was reported. Our results revealed several novel findings: 1) the likelihood of reporting a probed object’s feature was superior when reporting location with a color cue than when reporting color with a location cue; 2) location report errors were composed entirely of swap errors, with little to no random location reports; and 3) both colour and location reports greatly benefitted from the presence of nonprobed items at test. This last finding suggests that it is uncertainty over the bindings between locations and colors at memory retrieval that drive swap errors, not at encoding. We interpret our findings as consistent with a representational architecture that nests remembered object features within remembered locations.


Visual working memory Precision Spatial working memory 



Funding for this research was provided by a Discovery grant to Daryl Wilson from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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