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Volume 4 Issue 1 (2008)

Task-specific modulation of memory for object features in natural scenes original article

pp. 1-14 | First published on 31 March 2008 | DOI:10.2478/v10053-008-0037-9

Alan Robinson, Jochen Triesch


The influence of visual tasks on short and long-term memory for visual features was investigated using a change-detection paradigm. Subjects completed 2 tasks: (a) describing objects in natural images, reporting a specific property of each object when a crosshair appeared above it, and (b) viewing a modified version of each scene, and detecting which of the previously described objects had changed. When tested over short delays (seconds), no task effects were found. Over longer delays (minutes) we found the describing task influenced what types of changes were detected in a variety of explicit and incidental memory experiments. Furthermore, we found surprisingly high performance in the incidental memory experiment, suggesting that simple tasks are sufficient to instill long-lasting visual memories.

Keywords: visual working memory, natural scenes, natural tasks, change detection