The representation of nonstructural information in visual memory: Evidence from image combination.

Walker, Peter and Hitch, Graham J. and Dewhurst, Stephen A. and Whiteley, Helen E. and Brandimonte, Maria A. (1997) The representation of nonstructural information in visual memory: Evidence from image combination. Memory and Cognition, 25 (4). pp. 484-491. ISSN 0090-502X

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Two experiments investigated the differential representation of the figure and ground of a picture in visual short-term and long-term memory. It is known (Hitch, Brandimonte, & Walker, 1995) that subjects find it more difficult to combine mental images of two separately presented pictures in order to identify a novel form when the two pictures are incongruent in color (i.e., when a black-on-white line drawing has to be combined with a white-on-black drawing). In the present experiments, the figures were depicted in solid form to allow color congruity to be varied independently for figure and ground. Results showed a clear impairment in image combination when the to-be-combined figures were incongruent in color (black-on-gray and white-on-gray) but not when their grounds were incongruently colored (gray-on-black and gray-on-white). In this way, image combination was seen to be supported by a representation of the object depicted in the picture rather than by a literal representation of the picture itself (i.e., a pictorial code). In line with previous findings, the same representation was seen to support image combination based on short-term memory (Experiment 1) and long-term memory (Experiment 2), provided that in the latter case verbal recoding was precluded. When verbal recoding was allowed, image combination based on long-term memory was insensitive to color congruity, implying the involvement of a more abstract structural representation.

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Journal Article
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Memory and Cognition
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31 Jul 2008 10:57
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 00:28