Accumulating and remembering the details of neutral and emotional natural scenes

David Melcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In contrast to our rich sensory experience with complex scenes in everyday life, the capacity of visual working memory is thought to be quite limited. Here our memory has been examined for the details of naturalistic scenes as a function of display duration, emotional valence of the scene, and delay before test. Individual differences in working memory and long-term memory for pictorial scenes were examined in experiment 1. The accumulation of memory for emotional scenes and the retention of these details in long-term memory were investigated in experiment 2. Although there were large individual differences in performance, memory for scene details generally exceeded the traditional working memory limit within a few seconds. Information about positive scenes was learned most quickly, while negative scenes showed the worst memory for details. The overall pattern of results was consistent with the idea that both short-term and long-term representations are mixed together in a medium-term 'online' memory for scenes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1011-1025
Number of pages15
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence


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