August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
Impact of Gestalt Grouping on Objects in Spatial Working Memory
Author Affiliations
  • Melissa A.B. Smith
    Psychology Department, George Mason University
  • Eric Blumberg
    Psychology Department, George Mason University
  • Matthew S. Peterson
    Psychology Department, George Mason University
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 295. doi:
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      Melissa A.B. Smith, Eric Blumberg, Matthew S. Peterson; Impact of Gestalt Grouping on Objects in Spatial Working Memory. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):295.

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

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Previous research has found that Gestalt principles of organization can affect how objects are stored in working memory (Woodman, et al, 2003). However, it is not clear whether this effect is due to how stimuli are encoded or how they are organized in storage. The studies presented here examine how Gestalt grouping, in the form of an enclosing figure, affects the spatial locations of objects already stored in memory. It was hypothesized that Gestalt grouping would impact the accuracy of recall of the memorized elements. Four dots were displayed briefly on a computer monitor, followed by a dot masking screen, and another presentation of four dots either in the same arrangement or with one dot in a different spatial location. During the retention interval, between the dot mask and the second presentation of the dots, either two Gestalt-grouping figures (experimental condition) or two groups of random lines (control) that coincided with locations of the Gestalt figures were presented for 2000 ms. Results demonstrated that the Gestalt grouping had a negative impact on the accuracy of spatial recall only when the dots moved from a location that corresponded to the interior of a figure to another interior location. The presence of the Gestalt figures during the retention interval had no effect for detecting dots that moved outside the figures or between the interior of the figure and the background. These findings suggest that object grouping does play a role in how items are stored in working memory, and grouping can have its effects after items have already been encoded.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012


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