Visual memory for objects in natural scenes: From fixations to object files

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Object descriptions are extracted and retained across saccades when observers view natural scenes. We investigated whether particular object properties are encoded and the stability of the resulting memories. We tested immediate recall of multiple types of information from real-world scenes and from computer-presented images of the same scenes. The relationship between fixations and properties of object memory was investigated. Position information was encoded and accumulated from multiple fixations. In contrast, identity and colour were encoded but did not require direct fixation and did not accumulate. In the current experiments, participants were unable to recall any information about shape or relative distances between objects. In addition, where information was encoded we found differential patterns of stability. Data from viewing real scenes and images were highly consistent, with stronger effects in the real-world conditions. Our findings imply that object files are not dependent upon the encoding of any particular object property and so are robust to dynamic visual environments.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Sussex, Brighton, UK 2: University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

Publication date: July 1, 2005

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