A psychophysical investigation of human visual perceptual memory. A study of the retention of colour, spatial frequency and motion visual information by human visual short term memory mechanisms.
AuthorNemes, Vanda A.
SupervisorMcKeefry, Declan J.
KeywordVisual short term memory
; Spatial frequency
; Perceptual memory
; Visual information
The University of Bradford theses are licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.
InstitutionUniversity of Bradford
DepartmentSchool of Optometry and Vision Science
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AbstractThe aim of this thesis was to investigate how visual information is organised in perceptual short term memory, with special interest in colour, spatial frequency and velocity. Previous studies of VSTM have indicated the existence of specific memory mechanisms for visual attributes such as orientation, spatial frequency, velocity, contrast and colour. The retention of information in visual short term memory for these basic visual attributes can be disrupted by the presentation of masking stimuli during inter-stimulus intervals (ISIs), which are outside the range of traditional sensory masking. We exploited this memory masking effect in order to examine the organisation of visual information in VSTM. Four groups of experiments were conducted in which participants carried out a delayed discrimination paradigm that employed a two-alternative forced choice (2-AFC) procedure in conjunction with a method of constant stimuli. The fidelity of VSTM was measured by performance markers such as discrimination thresholds and point of subjective equalities. We have found selective memory masking effects, which serve as further evidence in favour of the modular organisation in VSTM, namely, that human visual perceptual memory is based upon multiple, tuned channels in case of colour, spatial frequency and speed, similar to those found in the earliest stages of visual processing for spatial frequency. Moreover, each of these storage mechanisms are tuned to a relatively narrow range of stimulus parameters that are closely linked to visual discrimination mechanisms. These findings add further support to the view that low-level sensory processing mechanisms form the basis for the retention of colour, spatial frequency and velocity information in perceptual memory. We also found evidence for the broad range of transfer of memory masking effects across spatial location, which indicates more long range, long duration interactions between channels that are likely to rely upon contributions from neural processes located in higher visual areas. In conclusion, the experiments presented in this thesis provide significant insight into the organization of visual information in perceptual short term memory.
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