Dr. Steven Luck
Department of Psychology
University of Iowa

Visual Working Memory: Representation, Process, & Function

Visual working memory is a short-term storage system that allows visual information to be buffered briefly in the service of cognitive tasks.  I will describe our research addressing the nature of the representations that are stored in this system, the processes that create and use these representations, and an example of an important but underappreciated real-world visual task that makes use of this system.  Specifically, I will discuss evidence indicating that integrated objects (or object parts) are the fundamental storage units in visual working memory and evidence indicating that the process of creating representations is highly resource-demanding, whereas the process of comparing these representations with new sensory information is fast and highly efficient.  I will also describe studies showing that this memory system plays an important role in the control of eye movements, allowing us to rapidly recover from the errors that commonly occur as we try to fixate objects in the periphery.