September 2005
Volume 5, Issue 8
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2005
Forgetting visual versus conceptual information about pictures
Author Affiliations
  • Mary C. Potter
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Laura F. Fox
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Journal of Vision September 2005, Vol.5, 793. doi:
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      Mary C. Potter, Laura F. Fox; Forgetting visual versus conceptual information about pictures. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):793. doi:

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

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When photographs of natural scenes are shown in a rapid serial visual presentation at 6/s, more than half can be recognized if tested immediately, but over the next few seconds of the test many are forgotten (Potter, Staub, Rado, & O'Connor, 2002). When the test consists of titles of the pictures (e.g., “cut up fruit”) performance is similar to tests using pictures, except that at the beginning of the test performance with pictures is significantly better than with titles (Potter, Staub, & O'Connor, 2004). Could this be because visual information (as cued by a picture test but not by a title) is forgotten more rapidly than conceptual information (as tested by titles and pictures)? Subjects viewed five pictures plus a mask at 6/s and were tested with titles. Either early or later in the test, after deciding whether a given title corresponded with a presented picture, the subject was given a forced-choice test of some visual property of the picture. In Experiment 1 the test was a question such as “What color was the flower?” (purple, orange white). In a second experiment the test required a choice between two versions of the picture, one identical to the original and one altered by changing a color, left-right orientation, or the like. In neither experiment was there a significant effect of test position on accuracy, contrary to the prediction that visual information would be remembered better when the test came early. Implications for the abstract nature of picture memory will be discussed.

Potter, M. C. Fox, L. F. (2005). Forgetting visual versus conceptual information about pictures [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 5(8):793, 793a,, doi:10.1167/5.8.793. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
 Supported by NIMH47432.

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