Visual Memory

The first part of this study (done in 2009, submitted 2010) investigated the validity of tests of visual memory as a construct separate from other visual perception tests.  We hypothesized that visual attention and strategies for organization of visual information account for differences in visual memory. This study involved children with and without learning disabilities.   An unexpected and interesting finding emerged from the data analysis which prompted the current study:  on the standardized test, Visual Memory (TVPS-3, Martin, 2006), which is a multiple-choice test, participants were more likely to make errors if the correct responses were the first or last of the four choices.  This suggests an influence of memory for location in addition to memory for the image because the stimulus items were presented in the center of the page as were response items #2 and #3.  This prompted a new review of the literature on the “what and where” systems of vision.

    The 2009 study also included a Draw-from-Memory task (Figure 1) which can provide additional insight into the role of location in visual memory and how this influence may change in different age and ability populations.  The finding that location may be a considerable and unaccounted factor in the score on a popular test of visual memory has led us to re-examine the patterns of errors on the draw-from-memory task to investigate the influence of location on memory tasks.  We found that younger children (kindergarten age) made a greater number of location errors than elementary age children; when older children remembered a feature, it was generally tied to its location whereas the younger children seemed to better separate object and location. 

    To get a complete view of developmental trends, measurements of mature performance were gathered in the current study.  Although we have Draw-from-Memory data from the adult participants in 2009, the task proved to be too easy for them and consequently there were too few errors to analyze. In the current study the Draw-from-Memory task was done by college students under the stressed condition of limiting viewing time.  The stressed condition was expected to lead to more errors which will help us determine whether memory for features is equally strongly tied to memory for location across the age spectrum.  We found that adults were more like the younger children in that they made more errors of location than the elementary age children.  Our interpretation of these findings is that object memory in elementary-age children is strongly tied to location. 

    (Click below to view the PowerPoint presentation on this study given at the U of S Scholarship Day)
Draw-From-Memory Figures

Sample errors of location
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Carol Cote,
Jul 8, 2010, 11:54 AM
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