Temporal buffering and visual capacity: The time course of object formation underlies capacity limits in visual cognition

Andreas Wutz, David Melcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Capacity limits are a hallmark of visual cognition. The upper boundary of our ability to individuate and remember objects is well known but-despite its central role in visual information processing-not well understood. Here, we investigated the role of temporal limits in the perceptual processes of forming "object files." Specifically, we examined the two fundamental mechanisms of object file formation-individuation and identification-by selectively interfering with visual processing by using forward and backward masking with variable stimulus onset asynchronies. While target detection was almost unaffected by these two types of masking, they showed distinct effects on the two different stages of object formation. Forward "integration" masking selectively impaired object individuation, whereas backward "interruption" masking only affected identification and the consolidation of information into visual working memory. We therefore conclude that the inherent temporal dynamics of visual information processing are an essential component in creating the capacity limits in object individuation and visual working memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)921-933
Number of pages13
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Volume75
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Capacity
  • Object identification
  • Object individuation
  • Sensory memory
  • Visual masking
  • Visual working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language

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