August 2023
Volume 23, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2023
Quantifying the Temporal Dynamics of Memorability Across the Creation of Art
Author Affiliations
  • Trent M. Davis
    University of Chicago
  • Wilma A. Bainbridge
    University of Chicago
Journal of Vision August 2023, Vol.23, 5531. doi:
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      Trent M. Davis, Wilma A. Bainbridge; Quantifying the Temporal Dynamics of Memorability Across the Creation of Art. Journal of Vision 2023;23(9):5531.

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

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Research on memorability has provided insight into why certain stimuli are consistently remembered or forgotten across large groups of individuals, allowing for a greater understanding of human memory. Most research on memorability focuses on a single version of a given stimulus, such as an image of a face, naturalistic scene, or object. Unlike these stimuli, artwork is created through multiple steps and dynamically changes over time until it is complete. Prior work has shown that an objective memorability score can be quantified for a work of art (Davis & Bainbridge, 2022) and that this memorability score is significantly predictable by a neural network, ResMem (Needell & Bainbridge, 2021). However, no study has asked how the memorability of a given stimulus changes as it is being made, or how a stimulus ultimately becomes memorable, forgettable, or somewhere in between. Here, we tested how a work of art becomes memorable over time. We used sequences of still images taken from the creation of 30 artworks, and using ResMem, tracked their memorability as they were made. We found that across art pieces, there was no fixed pattern or constant path of memorability over time. However, for many art pieces, the initial memorability score was often greater than its final memorability score. By focusing in on the points in time when an artwork’s memorability changed dramatically or when it was most and least memorable, we determined perceptual features that contribute to and detract from memorability. These findings hold strong implications for the creation and development of artworks, as well as other fields including marketing and museum curation.


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