Visual Working Memory is a temporary buffer that can hold a limited amount of information in an active state. The strong links working memory has to general aptitude measures reveal its major role in guiding behavior. Therefore, it is important to understand how visual working memory processes information.
Topics studied in the lab include:
Understanding working memory capacity limits
Working memory is highly limited, and can only maintain around 3 items at a time. Capacity greatly varies between individuals. This variation has been linked to general abilities such as fluid intelligence and problem solving on the one hand, and to psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Schizophrenia on the other hand. Understanding capacity limits and the ways people compensate for them is a key issue in the lab.
The distribution of visual working memory capacity estimates among our subjects:
One prominent possibility for the source of individual differences in visual working memory capacity is that capacity differences reflects the ability to filter information encoded into visual working memory. Namely, high-capacity individuals are better in constraining what is encoded within the limited working memory workspace, by successfully filtering out irrelevant distractors and encoding only task relevant information. Low-capacity individuals, on the other hand, have poor filtering abilities, and therefore their memory capacity gets filled with irrelevant information, limiting their ability to process task relevant information.
Online updating and binding
The objects around us constantly interact, as they move, split or merge. Yet, our visual perception is able to provide us with a sensation of a stable and continuous world. One important mechanism that helps us make sense of objects around us is the binding mechanism. The binding mechanism evaluates incoming information and can integrate several features/objects into single representations, update existing representations, or create novel object representations. We study how the binding mechanism changes the object representation online, e.g., when an object combines with another (a man wearing a hat).