Submission Title

The Effects of Domain Specific Working Memory on Our Ability to Perceive Color

Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library

Subject Area

Psychology

Description

Baddeley and Hitch’s (1974) working memory (WM) model describes a short-term storage system which allows us to simultaneously maintain (store) and process relevant information; playing a critical role in higher order cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning and comprehension. The WM model has three main components, the central executive - which is in charge of numerous executive functions such as planning and attentional control - and is in charge of the two subsystems: the phonological loop and visuospatial sketchpad. These different components are thought to hold on to different forms of information; the phonological loop maintains and encodes verbal/semantic and auditory information while the visuospatial sketchpad is in charge of visual information such as color, form, and movement. While a great deal of research has focused on the storage and processing aspects of the phonological loop (Heenan, Herdman, Brown & Robert, 2014; Spurgeon, Ward & Matthews, 2014; Conrad & Hull, 1964), not much has examined the visuospatial sketchpad.

Kim, Kim and Chun (2005) used the Stroop interference task to compare the effect of overlapping verbal or spatial WM loads on either target or distractor processes of several variants of the stroop test. They found that interference increased if the type of WM load was the same as the target of the task, but decreased if WM load type overlapped with the distractor processing instead. This indicates that working memory load may impair the specific processing of information related to a secondary task. Kim et al.’s (2005) experiment presents strong empirical support for a domain-specific WM framework, but it additionally alludes to the further potential interaction between visual perception and attention within the VSSP.

There are several difficulties in studying the visuospatial sketchpad. Many items that we see can be encoded both phonologically and visually. For example, if you see an image of a tree, you encode it not only as a picture but as the word “tree.” Also, it appears that the VSSP has two representative modes. Within the visuospatial sketchpad, several studies have found evidence for a dissociation between spatial location/movement (“where”) features, and object (“what”) features such as color and form in visual WM (Tresch, Sinnamon & Seamon, 1993; Mecklinger, 1998). These show only slight overlap of shared mechanisms, showing the complexity of visual processes. Most research on the visuospatial sketchpad examines the “where” features to identify visual working memory ability. Because of this, examining the “what”/object features is the crucial next step to advance our understanding of the visuospatial sketchpad.

My study will incorporate both types of perceptual load types - both object and spatial features. By exploring the object feature - color - and it’s interaction with both verbal and spatial domains of working memory, we may further our knowledge of the complex components of working memory. I aim to explore what previous research has not yet assessed: the impact of working memory on one of the most basic perceptual features – color.

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The Effects of Domain Specific Working Memory on Our Ability to Perceive Color

Jereld R. Nicholson Library

Baddeley and Hitch’s (1974) working memory (WM) model describes a short-term storage system which allows us to simultaneously maintain (store) and process relevant information; playing a critical role in higher order cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning and comprehension. The WM model has three main components, the central executive - which is in charge of numerous executive functions such as planning and attentional control - and is in charge of the two subsystems: the phonological loop and visuospatial sketchpad. These different components are thought to hold on to different forms of information; the phonological loop maintains and encodes verbal/semantic and auditory information while the visuospatial sketchpad is in charge of visual information such as color, form, and movement. While a great deal of research has focused on the storage and processing aspects of the phonological loop (Heenan, Herdman, Brown & Robert, 2014; Spurgeon, Ward & Matthews, 2014; Conrad & Hull, 1964), not much has examined the visuospatial sketchpad.

Kim, Kim and Chun (2005) used the Stroop interference task to compare the effect of overlapping verbal or spatial WM loads on either target or distractor processes of several variants of the stroop test. They found that interference increased if the type of WM load was the same as the target of the task, but decreased if WM load type overlapped with the distractor processing instead. This indicates that working memory load may impair the specific processing of information related to a secondary task. Kim et al.’s (2005) experiment presents strong empirical support for a domain-specific WM framework, but it additionally alludes to the further potential interaction between visual perception and attention within the VSSP.

There are several difficulties in studying the visuospatial sketchpad. Many items that we see can be encoded both phonologically and visually. For example, if you see an image of a tree, you encode it not only as a picture but as the word “tree.” Also, it appears that the VSSP has two representative modes. Within the visuospatial sketchpad, several studies have found evidence for a dissociation between spatial location/movement (“where”) features, and object (“what”) features such as color and form in visual WM (Tresch, Sinnamon & Seamon, 1993; Mecklinger, 1998). These show only slight overlap of shared mechanisms, showing the complexity of visual processes. Most research on the visuospatial sketchpad examines the “where” features to identify visual working memory ability. Because of this, examining the “what”/object features is the crucial next step to advance our understanding of the visuospatial sketchpad.

My study will incorporate both types of perceptual load types - both object and spatial features. By exploring the object feature - color - and it’s interaction with both verbal and spatial domains of working memory, we may further our knowledge of the complex components of working memory. I aim to explore what previous research has not yet assessed: the impact of working memory on one of the most basic perceptual features – color.