- Real-world spatial regularities affect visual working memory for objects
- Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
- Volume | Issue number
- 22 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Traditional memory research has focused on measuring and modeling the capacity of visual working memory for simple stimuli such as geometric shapes or colored disks. Although these studies have provided important insights, it is unclear how their findings apply to memory for more naturalistic stimuli. An important aspect of real-world scenes is that they contain a high degree of regularity: For instance, lamps appear above tables, not below them. In the present study, we tested whether such real-world spatial regularities affect working memory capacity for individual objects. Using a delayed change-detection task with concurrent verbal suppression, we found enhanced visual working memory performance for objects positioned according to real-world regularities, as compared to irregularly positioned objects. This effect was specific to upright stimuli, indicating that it did not reflect low-level grouping, because low-level grouping would be expected to equally affect memory for upright and inverted displays. These results suggest that objects can be held in visual working memory more efficiently when they are positioned according to frequently experienced real-world regularities. We interpret this effect as the grouping of single objects into larger representational units.
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