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Martin Graziano, Mariano Sigman; The dynamics of sensory buffers: Geometric, spatial, and experience-dependent shaping of iconic memory. Journal of Vision 2008;8(5):9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/8.5.9.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
When a stimulus is presented, its sensory trace decays rapidly, lasting for approximately 1000 ms. This brief and labile memory, referred as iconic memory, serves as a buffer before information is transferred to working memory and executive control. Here we explored the effect of different factors—geometric, spatial, and experience—with respect to the access and the maintenance of information in iconic memory and the progressive distortion of this memory. We studied performance in a partial report paradigm, a design wherein recall of only part of a stimulus array is required. Subjects had to report the identity of a letter in a location that was cued in a variable delay after the stimulus onset. Performance decayed exponentially with time, and we studied the different parameters (time constant, zero-delay value, and decay amplitude) as a function of the different factors. We observed that experience (determined by letter frequency) affected the access to iconic memory but not the temporal decay constant. On the contrary, spatial position affected the temporal course of delay. The entropy of the error distribution increased with time reflecting a progressive morphological distortion of the iconic buffer. We discuss our results on the context of a model of information access to executive control and how it is affected by learning and attention.
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