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Conne A George, Michael S Pratte; Free-Floating Features in Visual Working Memory. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):200d. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.200d.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A fundamental question in visual working memory is whether memories are made of collections of features, or of bound object-based representation. Whereas most of the research on this question has focused on the bindings between features such as color and orientation, here we focus on an object’s location, and explore whether location is a fundamental feature that any object representation must have, or if other features can be stored in memory even in the absence of memory for their location. In a series of experiments we utilized different test conditions to separately measure memory capacity for item colors, item locations, and the bound color and location conjunctions. We repeatedly found that participants remember about one more color representation than bound color & location representations. This result implies that a feature such as color can be stored in memory without jointly maintaining the location corresponding to that feature. We hypothesized that perhaps this location-less color information was being stored in verbal memory (e.g. “red”), rather than in visual working memory. However, articulatory suppression did not negate the presence of this information, suggesting that color information can be stored in visual working memory in the absence of location. We conclude that location is therefore not a necessary feature of working memory storage, but rather, that features can be stored in a location-less, free-floating state.
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