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David L. Sacks, Andrew Hollingworth; Attending to original object location facilitates visual memory retrieval. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):443. doi: 10.1167/5.8.443.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
It has long been known that attention plays a critical role in the transfer of perceptual information into memory. The present study examined whether attention plays a complementary role in the retrieval of visual information from memory. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that visual object representations in scenes are bound to scene locations, and that attending to an object's location facilitates the retrieval of object information bound to that location (Hollingworth & Henderson, 2002).
On each trial, participants viewed a 3-D rendered scene for 12 seconds, followed by a mask and a test scene in which a single target object had been moved from its original position in the scene to the center of the scene. The target object was either the same as the original object or mirror reversed. The task was change detection. Eye movements were monitored during study and test.
In the first experiment, when attempting to perform the change detection task, participants fixated the (now empty) original location where the target had appeared on approximately 30% of trials. To examine if this behavior is functional in visual memory retrieval, in the second experiment we controlled participants' ability to fixate the original location. In the eye-movement condition, participants were free to look around the scenes while making their change judgment. In the no eye-movement condition, participants were only allowed to fixate the central target object during test, which ensured that they could not fixate the object's original location. Change detection was significantly more accurate in the eye-movement condition (89%) than in the no eye movement condition (76%). These data support the hypothesis that object representations are bound to scene locations and that object retrieval is facilitated by attending to object location.
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