Abstract Title

Perceptual Grouping Benefits in Visual Working Memory

Presentation Type

Paper

Abstract

Researchers have disagreed on the factors that determine visual working memory (VWM) capacity. Luck & Vogel (1997) suggested that capacity is object based, while others found that the general cognitive load of a display influences VWM capacity (Brady, Konkle & Alvarez, 2011). For example, a display with complex objects leads to fewer objects being remembered (Alvarez & Cavanagh, 2004). Alternatively, grouping by Gestalt principles such as connectedness and proximity can influence the perception of a display and benefit VWM capacity (Woodman, Vecera & Luck, 2003). These grouping advantages are believed to develop from the object benefit that is often observed in VWM (Xu 2006). Grouping by closure promotes the perception of a coherent object without physical connections; however, it has not been investigated in VWM. We evaluated grouping by closure and proximity to determine whether grouping by closure provides similar benefits in VWM capacity as previously seen. Four L-shaped features were grouped in tilted clusters to either form the perception of an object or not, with a set size of either four (16 L features) or six clusters (24 L features). Following a brief mask (1000 ms), the orientation of one cluster was changed (tilted +20 or -20 degrees) on half the trials. Participants were more accurate to report the change when features induced a sense of closure (59% set size four, 55% set size six) compared to when they did not (54% set size four, 51% set size six), suggesting that closure affords better VWM benefits than proximity.

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Perceptual Grouping Benefits in Visual Working Memory

Researchers have disagreed on the factors that determine visual working memory (VWM) capacity. Luck & Vogel (1997) suggested that capacity is object based, while others found that the general cognitive load of a display influences VWM capacity (Brady, Konkle & Alvarez, 2011). For example, a display with complex objects leads to fewer objects being remembered (Alvarez & Cavanagh, 2004). Alternatively, grouping by Gestalt principles such as connectedness and proximity can influence the perception of a display and benefit VWM capacity (Woodman, Vecera & Luck, 2003). These grouping advantages are believed to develop from the object benefit that is often observed in VWM (Xu 2006). Grouping by closure promotes the perception of a coherent object without physical connections; however, it has not been investigated in VWM. We evaluated grouping by closure and proximity to determine whether grouping by closure provides similar benefits in VWM capacity as previously seen. Four L-shaped features were grouped in tilted clusters to either form the perception of an object or not, with a set size of either four (16 L features) or six clusters (24 L features). Following a brief mask (1000 ms), the orientation of one cluster was changed (tilted +20 or -20 degrees) on half the trials. Participants were more accurate to report the change when features induced a sense of closure (59% set size four, 55% set size six) compared to when they did not (54% set size four, 51% set size six), suggesting that closure affords better VWM benefits than proximity.