May 2008
Volume 8, Issue 6
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2008
Common capacity limit for visual perception and working memory
Author Affiliations
  • Hiroyuki Tsubomi
    The University of Tokyo
  • Hirohito Kondo
    NTT Communication Science Laboratories
  • Katsumi Watanabe
    The University of Tokyo, and ERATO, Japan Science and Technology Agency
Journal of Vision May 2008, Vol.8, 205. doi:
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      Hiroyuki Tsubomi, Hirohito Kondo, Katsumi Watanabe; Common capacity limit for visual perception and working memory. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):205.

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

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Recent studies in working memory have suggested that our explicit visual representation is limited to a few objects. However, there are two possible explanations for this limited capacity. One possibility is that the explicit visual representations decay and a few object representations remain after a delay period (memory limit hypothesis). Another explanation is that we explicitly perceive only a fraction of visual objects from the beginning (perceptual limit hypothesis). We tested these two hypotheses by manipulating the delay interval. A sample display, containing six stimuli regularly spaced on an imaginary circle, was presented for 3 s. The stimulus was a bar with orientation of 0°, 45°, 90°, or 135°. A small circle was attached at either side of the bar, creating eight possible orientations of sample stimuli. After 0 or 1 second (perceptual or memory condition, respectively), a cue was presented at one of the sample stimulus locations. Observers pressed a key to indicate the orientation of the sample stimulus at the cued location. Capacity was estimated by using a formula [number of the sample stimuli × (% correct − 12.5) / 87.5]. The measured capacity was 3.2 items in both 0-s and 1-s delay conditions. The measured capacity varied substantially across individuals, ranging from 0.5 to 5.8. Yet, the capacity limits in the 0-s and 1-s delay conditions were highly consistent within individuals (r = 0.96). These results support the perceptual limit hypothesis. The strong correlation between perceptual and working memory capacity suggests that they may be originated from the same limitation.

Tsubomi, H. Kondo, H. Watanabe, K. (2008). Common capacity limit for visual perception and working memory [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 8(6):205, 205a,, doi:10.1167/8.6.205. [CrossRef]

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