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Visual recall memory contains highly detailed and precise object and spatial information

Friday, September 14, 2018 — Poster Session V

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
FAES Terrace


  • WA Bainbridge
  • EH Hall
  • CI Baker


Understanding the content of memory is essential to teasing apart the underlying mechanisms. While there has been research investigating the capacity of visual recognition memory (i.e., is this image familiar or not?), little work has examined the content within visual recall memory (i.e., what exact image is in your memory?), despite evidence that these may be two neurally distinct processes. In the current work, we investigate free recall of real-world scenes, and quantify the content of memory using a drawing task. Participants studied 30 scenes and, after a distractor task, drew as many images as possible from memory. The resulting memory-based drawings were scored by thousands of online observers, revealing a high level of detail: numerous objects, few memory intrusions, and precise spatial information. We found that computer vision-based visual saliency and meaning maps can explain aspects of memory performance and observed no relationship between recall and recognition for individual images. Collectively, these results suggest that visual recall memory contains a previously undiscovered level of detail and precision in its representations of real-world images. Such findings have meaningful implications not only for the understanding of human memory, but also provide a new way to study fine-grained memory impairments in clinical populations.

Category: Neuroscience