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Karla Antonelli, Eumji Kang, Carrick Williams; Through the fence or behind the wall: Occlusion type affects object memory. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):36. doi: 10.1167/14.10.36.
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Real-world object memory representations are often visually incomplete due to occlusion. The current study explored whether different forms of occlusion influence visual memory representations and what differences in memory performance based on occlusion type could mean for visual memory representations that had been extracted. In two experiments, participants memorized 128 pictures of objects (one second presentation) that were 50% occluded with a multi-colored mask covering either a solid half of the object (solid condition), or stripes of the object that were equal in width and spacing across the object (stripe condition). The critical difference between the experiments was the form of the following memory test. In Experiment 1, a 2-AFC token discrimination memory test was used with the presented object token and a color-category matched foil token shown free of any occlusion. In Experiment 2, participants also performed a 2-AFC memory test, but chose between the exact presented image (including the occluding element) and the same object image but with a different portion of the object occluded/visible. For Experiment 1, memory accuracy for the solid (61%) and stripe (59%) conditions did not differ significantly for determining which object token had been presented. However, in Experiment 2, memory accuracy was significantly different between solid (64%) and stripe (54%) conditions in determining which portion of the object had been previously seen. The differences in memory performance imply that for the stripe condition, participants encoded more abstract representations of the occluded objects either "filling in" or "glossing over" the missing details. In contrast, the encoded representations in the solid condition appear to be less abstract emphasizing the exact portions of the object seen. Thus, even when equal portions of an object are visible, the occlusion form will affect how the object is remembered.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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