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Insensitivity of visual short-term memory to irrelevant visual information

Andrade, Jackie, Kemps, Eva, Werniers, Yves, May, Jon and Szmalec, Arnaud (2002) Insensitivity of visual short-term memory to irrelevant visual information. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 55 (3). pp. 753-774. ISSN 1464-0740

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Abstract

Several authors have hypothesised that visuo-spatial working memory is functionally analogous to verbal working memory. Irrelevant background speech impairs verbal short-term memory. We investigated whether irrelevant visual information has an analogous effect on visual short-term memory, using a dynamic visual noise (DVN) technique known to disrupt visual imagery (Quinn & McConnell, 1996a). Experiment 1 replicated the effect of DVN on pegword imagery. Experiments 2 and 3 showed no effect of DVN on recall of static matrix patterns, despite a significant effect of a concurrent spatial tapping task. Experiment 4 showed no effect of DVN on encoding or maintenance of arrays of matrix patterns, despite testing memory by a recognition procedure to encourage visual rather than spatial processing. Serial position curves showed a one-item recency effect typical of visual short-term memory. Experiment 5 showed no effect of DVN on short-term recognition of Chinese characters, despite effects of visual similarity and a concurrent colour memory task that confirmed visual processing of the characters. We conclude that irrelevant visual noise does not impair visual short-term memory. Visual working memory may not be functionally analogous to verbal working memory, and different cognitive processes may underlie visual short-term memory and visual imagery.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2002 The Experimental Psychology Society. This is an author produced version of the article.
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Department of Psychology (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Jackie Andrade
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2005
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 10:57
Published Version: http://psychologypress.metapress.com/link.asp?id=9...
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1080/02724980143000541
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/676

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