September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
Sensory Memory is Allocated Exclusively to the Current Event Segment
Author Affiliations
  • Srimant Tripathy
    School of Optometry & Vision Science, University of Bradford
  • Haluk Ogmen
    Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of Houston Center of Neuro-Engineering & Cognitive Science, University of Houston
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 86. doi:10.1167/15.12.86
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      Srimant Tripathy, Haluk Ogmen; Sensory Memory is Allocated Exclusively to the Current Event Segment. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):86. doi: 10.1167/15.12.86.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

The Atkinson-Shiffrin modal model forms the foundation of our understanding of human memory. It consists of three stores (Sensory Memory (SM), also called iconic memory, Short-Term Memory (STM), and Long-Term Memory (LTM)), each tuned to a different time-scale. Since its inception, the STM and LTM components of the modal model have undergone significant modifications, while, SM has remained largely unchanged, representing a large capacity system funneling information into STM. Moreover, how SM can work in ecological viewing conditions remains an unsolved problem. In the laboratory, visual memory is usually tested by presenting a brief static stimulus and, after a delay, asking observers to report some aspect of the stimulus. However, under ecological viewing conditions, our visual system receives a continuous stream of inputs, which is segmented into distinct spatio-temporal segments, called events. Events are further segmented into event-segments. We show, in a set of 5 experiments, that SM is not an unspecific general funnel to STM but is allocated exclusively to the current event-segment. We presented observers with an event stimulus consisting of multiple dots (n=1 to 4) moving along bilinear trajectories with a single deviation at the mid-point of each trajectory. The synchronized deviations in the trajectories yielded two event-segments, corresponding to pre-deviation and post-deviation event-segments. Observers were cued to report the directions of pre- or post-deviation trajectories. By analyzing observers’ responses in partial- and full-report conditions, we investigated the involvement of SM for the two event-segments. The hallmarks of SM hold only for the current event segment. As the large capacity SM stores only items involved in the current event-segment, the need for event-tagging in SM is eliminated, speeding up processing in active vision. By characterizing how memory systems are interfaced with ecological events, this new model extends the Atkinson-Shiffrin model from laboratory settings to ecological conditions.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015

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