August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Of "What" and "Where" in a natural search task: Active object handling supports object location memory beyond the objects' identity
Author Affiliations
  • Dejan Draschkow
    Scene Grammar Lab, Goethe University Frankfurt
  • Melissa Vo
    Scene Grammar Lab, Goethe University Frankfurt
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 352. doi:
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      Dejan Draschkow, Melissa Vo; Of "What" and "Where" in a natural search task: Active object handling supports object location memory beyond the objects' identity. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):352.

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

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In natural behavior, cognitive processes are strongly intertwined with observers' active interaction with the environment. To what degree does actively manipulating objects modulate memory representations of these objects? In a real world paradigm (fully furnished four-room apartment) we investigated if physically engaging with objects as part of a search task differentially influences identity and position memory for objects that are either relevant or irrelevant to a given task. Participants (N = 16) equipped with a mobile eye tracker either searched for cued objects without object interaction (Passive condition) or actively collected the objects they found (Active condition). Additionally, a unique category of objects was designated as relevant for each room (e.g. "objects needed for making a sandwich" in the kitchen) and participants were instructed to decide if an object was relevant upon finding it. In a subsequent, unannounced free recall task, identity memory was assessed demonstrating superior memory for relevant compared to irrelevant objects, but no difference between the Active and Passive condition. Finally, location memory was inferred via times to first fixation in another object search task. Again, there was no overall difference between the Active and Passive condition, yet location memory for relevant objects was superior to irrelevant ones only in the Active condition. This implies that active object manipulation interacts with task-relevance. Including identity memory performance in the recall task as a covariate in the linear mixed-model analysis of times to first fixation allowed us to explore the interaction between remembered/forgotten object identities and location memory performance for these. Strikingly, identity memory performance predicted location memory in the Passive, but not the Active condition. Together, these results suggest that active object handling leads to a prioritization of task relevant information and a strengthening of location representations above and beyond object identity memory performance.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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