Variability in the quality of visual working memory

Daryl Fougnie, Jordan W. Suchow, George A. Alvarez

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Working memory is a mental storage system that keeps task-relevant information accessible for a brief span of time, and it is strikingly limited. Its limits differ substantially across people but are assumed to be fixed for a given person. Here we show that there is substantial variability in the quality of working memory representations within an individual. This variability can be explained neither by fluctuations in attention or arousal over time, nor by uneven distribution of a limited mental commodity. Variability of this sort is inconsistent with the assumptions of the standard cognitive models of working memory capacity, including both slot- and resource-based models, and so we propose a new framework for understanding the limitations of working memory: a stochastic process of degradation that plays out independently across memories.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number1229
    JournalNature Communications
    Volume3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Dec 14 2012

    Fingerprint

    Short-Term Memory
    Data storage equipment
    Stochastic Processes
    arousal
    commodities
    Arousal
    stochastic processes
    Random processes
    slots
    resources
    Computer systems
    degradation
    Degradation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Chemistry(all)
    • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
    • Physics and Astronomy(all)

    Cite this

    Variability in the quality of visual working memory. / Fougnie, Daryl; Suchow, Jordan W.; Alvarez, George A.

    In: Nature Communications, Vol. 3, 1229, 14.12.2012.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Fougnie, Daryl ; Suchow, Jordan W. ; Alvarez, George A. / Variability in the quality of visual working memory. In: Nature Communications. 2012 ; Vol. 3.
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