What goes through the gate? Exploring interference with visual feature binding

Neuropsychologia. 2011 May;49(6):1597-604. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.11.030. Epub 2010 Dec 23.


A series of experiments explored the mechanisms determining the encoding and storage of features and objects in visual working memory. We contrasted the effects of three types of visual suffix on cued recall of a display of colored shapes. The suffix was presented after the display and before the recall cue. The latter was either the color or shape of one of the objects and signaled recall of the object's other feature. In Experiments 1 and 2, we found a larger effect of 'plausible' suffixes comprising features (color and shape) drawn from the experimental set, relative to the effect of 'implausible' suffixes comprising features outside the experimental set. Experiment 3 extended this pattern by showing that 'semi-plausible' suffixes containing only one feature (either color or shape) from the experimental set had an equivalent effect to those with both features from the set. Reduction in accuracy was mainly due to an increase in recall of suffix features, rather than within-display confusions. The findings suggest a feature-based filtering process in visual working memory, with any stimuli that pass through this filter serving to directly overwrite existing object representations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Cues
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Female
  • Field Dependence-Independence*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Perceptual Masking*
  • Reference Values
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult