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Timothy F. Lew, Edward Vul; Ensemble clustering in visual working memory biases location memories and reduces the Weber noise of relative positions. Journal of Vision 2015;15(4):10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.4.10.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
People seem to compute the ensemble statistics of objects and use this information to support the recall of individual objects in visual working memory. However, there are many different ways that hierarchical structure might be encoded. We examined the format of structured memories by asking subjects to recall the locations of objects arranged in different spatial clustering structures. Consistent with previous investigations of structured visual memory, subjects recalled objects biased toward the center of their clusters. Subjects also recalled locations more accurately when they were arranged in fewer clusters containing more objects, suggesting that subjects used the clustering structure of objects to aid recall. Furthermore, subjects had more difficulty recalling larger relative distances, consistent with subjects encoding the positions of objects relative to clusters and recalling them with magnitude-proportional (Weber) noise. Our results suggest that clustering improved the fidelity of recall by biasing the recall of locations toward cluster centers to compensate for uncertainty and by reducing the magnitude of encoded relative distances.
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