September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Drawing ability correlates with visual memory performance
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Filip Děchtěrenko
    Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic
  • Jiří Lukavský
    Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic
  • Wilma Bainbridge
    Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  The research has been supported by Czech Science Foundation (GA19-07690S)
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2345. doi:
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      Filip Děchtěrenko, Jiří Lukavský, Wilma Bainbridge; Drawing ability correlates with visual memory performance. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2345.

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

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In visual memory research, recognition tasks are commonly used to query memory. However, the recent emergence of drawing as a visual free recall task has allowed for a new ability to quantify detail and content within visual memory. A still open question with these paradigms is the degree to which differences in memory performance are related to drawing ability. In this study, we conducted an experiment where twenty participants were asked to memorize a randomized series of 20 scenes counterbalanced for memorability. Participants performed a digit span distractor task, and then were asked as a surprise recall task to draw all presented images. Finally, they were tested for visual recognition of the original 20 scenes intermixed with 20 matched foils. Participants showed high recognition performance (average accuracy 92%) and moderate recall performance (16.6 drawings from memory on average). After this main experiment, twenty raters were recruited to rank these drawings based on the quality of the drawing (without knowledge of the original scene) and the quality of the memory representation (with knowledge of the original scene). Participants showed large interindividual differences in drawing ability that were consistent across their drawings. The rated quality of their memory representations was significantly correlated with their recall performance (Spearman’s ⍴=0.42), their recognition performance (⍴=0.41), and their general drawing ability (⍴=0.86). However, there was also a significant correlation between ratings of their drawing ability and both recognition performance (⍴=0.86) and recall performance (⍴=0.41). The correlation between recognition performance accuracy and recall performance was small (⍴=0.08). Taken together, these results reveal a relationship between drawing skill and the quality of visual memories, tested through both recognition and recall, highlighting a potential influence of learned strategies on visual memory abilities.


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