August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Non-independence of spatial memory and position tracking
Author Affiliations
  • Christina Howard
    Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University
  • Duncan Guest
    Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University
  • Amanda Hornsby
    Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University
  • Rebekah Pole
    Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University
  • Paulina Nowak
    Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 1259. doi:
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      Christina Howard, Duncan Guest, Amanda Hornsby, Rebekah Pole, Paulina Nowak; Non-independence of spatial memory and position tracking . Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1259.

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

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There is a continuing debate around the role of serial processes in multiple object tracking (MOT), with some suggesting that spatial information is updated serially (Oksama & Hyönä, 2008). Spatial memory is a necessary component of serial component models. Therefore, in three experiments, we investigated the relationship between spatial memory and position tracking of moving targets. In Experiment 1, to test spatial memory, participants viewed complex patterns and then made same-different judgements. In the tracking task, participants monitored the positions of four discs amongst distractors. At the end of each trial, participants were immediately asked to report the final position of one of the targets. Memory performance of individuals, particularly under high load, was related to the precision of their spatial reports in the tracking task. It was also related to temporal lags exhibited in responses. These lags, previously reported for tracking tasks (e.g. Howard, Masom & Holcombe, 2011), indicate that responses are more similar to the recent past states of the target in the moments leading up to its disappearance than its final state. In Experiments 2 and 3, to investigate this relationship more directly, we manipulated memory load and tracking load independently under dual task conditions. In neither experiment did memory load affect tracking performance in terms of spatial precision or temporal lags. Conversely, there were detrimental effects of tracking load on memory. Modelled memory capacity estimates were very poor at just over one object in Experiment 2 and under one object in Experiment 3. These results indicate an asymmetric relationship whereby tracking load appears to severely limit spatial memory capacity but memory load does not appear to interfere with position monitoring during tracking. This relationship suggests the possibility that spatial memory may support performance in position tracking and potentially also in traditional MOT.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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