The same type of visual working memory limitations in humans and monkeys

Deepna T. Devkar, Anthony A. Wright, Wei J i Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rhesus monkeys are widely used as an animal model for human memory, including visual working memory (VWM). It is, however, unknown whether the same principles govern VWM in humans and rhesus monkeys. Here, we tested both species in nearly identical change-localization paradigms and formally compared the same set of models of VWM limitations. These models include the classic item-limit model and recent noise-based (resource) models, as well as hybrid models that combine a noise-based representation with an item limit. By varying the magnitude of the change in addition to the typical set size manipulation, we were able to show large differences in goodness of fit among the five models tested. In spite of quantitative performance differences between the species, we find that the variable-precision model--a noise-based model--best describes the behavior of both species. Adding an item limit to this model does not help to account for the data. Our results suggest evolutionary continuity of VWM across primates and help establish the rhesus monkey as a model system for studying the neural substrates of multiple-item VWM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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