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Taylor Coleman, Rafal Skiba, Alexis Carroll, Scott Turek, Marian Berryhill, Jacqueline Snow; Bringing the 'real-world' into cognitive science: real objects are more memorable than pictures. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):35. doi: 10.1167/14.10.35.
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The overwhelming majority of research in the field of psychology has involved the study of 2-dimensional (2D) pictures of objects, rather than real-world exemplars. Recent evidence from neuropsychology, economic decision-making, and neuroimaging suggests, however, that real objects may be processed and represented differently than pictures. Here we examined the extent to which memory is influenced by the format in which objects are displayed. We tested the ability of undergraduate college students (n=86) to recall, and later to recognize, a set of 44 different common household objects. The objects in the study phase were displayed in one of three viewing conditions: real-world exemplars, colored photographs, or black and white line drawings. We used a between-subjects design in which observers were randomly assigned to one of the three viewing conditions. The order of stimulus presentation and timing was identical in each of the three conditions, and the photographs and line drawings were matched in size to the real objects. Both recall, and recognition performance, was significantly better for real objects than colored photographs or line drawings. There was no difference in memory for stimuli in either of the picture conditions. These results highlight the importance of studying real-world object cognition, and raise the potential for applied use in developing effective compensatory strategies for memory-related cognitive decline, and improving procedures for eye-witness identification.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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