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Incidental visual memory for objects in scenes

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Three experiments were conducted to investigate the existence of incidentally acquired, long‐term, detailed visual memory for objects embedded in previously viewed scenes. Participants performed intentional memorization and incidental visual search learning tasks while viewing photographs of real‐world scenes. A visual memory test for previously viewed objects from these scenes then followed. Participants were not aware that they would be tested on the scenes following incidental learning in the visual search task. In two types of memory tests for visually specific object information (token discrimination and mirror‐image discrimination), performance following both the memorization and visual search conditions was reliably above chance. These results indicate that recent demonstrations of good visual memory during scene viewing are not due to intentional scene memorization. Instead, long‐term visual representations are incidentally generated as a natural product of scene perception.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2005


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