December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
Examining perceptual and categorical influences on visual working memory
Author Affiliations
  • Kara Lowery
    University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Aaron T. Buss
    University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 4288. doi:
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      Kara Lowery, Aaron T. Buss; Examining perceptual and categorical influences on visual working memory. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):4288.

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

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Visual working memory (VWM) refers to the limited capacity storage of visual information used for behaviors like problem-solving, planning, or reasoning. VWM is a crucial component of cognition, and individual differences in capacity during childhood have been linked to outcomes in academic achievement, fluid intelligence, and socioemotional development. VWM increases in capacity and precision throughout development. Very few studies have investigated what factors influence changes in VWM abilities in preschool-aged children. The first goal of this study was to examine VWM precision development in this age-range. This was accomplished by administering a delayed estimation task. In this task, children touched a color wheel to indicate the color of an item in memory from a two-item array. Mixture modeling was used to measure the likelihood of reporting the target color and precision of the color represented in memory. The second goal of this project was to investigate whether children’s discrimination, production, and comprehension of colors was related to their VWM precision. To measure discrimination, children touched a color wheel to indicate the color of a visually presented color. To assess comprehension, children touched a color wheel to indicate the location of ‘blue’ and ‘green’. Lastly, for production, children provided ‘blue’ or ‘green’ labels for stimuli that were randomly sampled between canonical blue and green color values. Nineteen children aged 36-48 months completed these tasks across two sessions. Results showed that perceptual discrimination abilities were unrelated to VWM performance. However, children’s comprehension of the label “green” (the average angle in color space that was selected when prompted with the label “green”) was related to their precision of recall. Responses that were further from blue were associated with lower variability when selecting the target color in the delayed estimation task. These results suggest that children’s color category learning influences the development of VWM.


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