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Correspondence problems cause repositioning costs in visual working memory

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Visual working memory performance often declines when objects are tested in new positions from those they were observed. We report an asymmetry in repositioning costs for orientation compared to colour memory (Experiment 1). Follow-up experiments demonstrated a similar asymmetry for line length memory compared to shape memory (Experiment 2). When different shades of the same colour category were used, however, repositioning costs emerged for colour as well (Experiment 3). Finally, a direct comparison experiment demonstrated an asymmetry for orientation compared to categorical colours, but in a task with no explicit memory demands (Experiment 4). These results challenge previous accounts of repositioning costs, suggesting that they emerge not due to the contents of visual working memory, but naturally because of correspondence procedures that must be executed in order to use a memory to judge the present.

Keywords: Capacity limit; Change detection; Correspondence problem; Visual working memory

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences,Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore,MD, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2012


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