October 2020
Volume 20, Issue 11
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   October 2020
We tallied the votes: No survival advantage in visual long-term memory
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Annie Truuvert
    The University of Toronto
  • Jay Pratt
    The University of Toronto
  • Susanne Ferber
    The University of Toronto
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  NSERC 2016-06359
Journal of Vision October 2020, Vol.20, 584. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.584
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      Annie Truuvert, Jay Pratt, Susanne Ferber; We tallied the votes: No survival advantage in visual long-term memory. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):584. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.584.

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

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It has long been known that depth of processing at encoding predicts later memory performance. One well-established encoding manipulation in the long-term memory (LTM) literature is survival processing, where LTM is significantly enhanced for objects that have been rated for relevance in survival scenarios compared to rating items for pleasantness. In LTM, this survival advantage has been found with object words as stimuli and surprise free recall tests; would a similar survival advantage be found for visual objects in visual long-term memory (VLTM)? To answer this question, participants rated coloured real-world object images in one of three conditions: softness, pleasantness, or relevance in a specified survival context. They then completed a surprise colour recall test, where they were shown greyscale versions of the object images and indicated each object’s previous colour on a colour wheel. Mixture modelling was used to analyze the responses. Unlike the findings from LTM tasks, no survival advantage was found; objects rated for relevance in the survival scenario did not demonstrate greater resolution (i.e., precision, indicated by smaller standard deviation values of responses from the correct object colour) in comparison to the pleasantness or softness conditions. These results suggest that the survival advantage cannot be extended from its current status in the memory literature to that of VLTM. While encoding objects into LTM in a survival scenario context enhances retention, encoding objects this way into VLTM does not enhance the resolution nor the availability of the memory representation.


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