Journal Article

Integration of Distinct Objects in Visual Working Memory Depends on Strong Objecthood Cues Even for Different-Dimension Conjunctions

Halely Balaban and Roy Luria

in Cerebral Cortex

Volume 26, issue 5, pages 2093-2104
Published in print May 2016 | ISSN: 1047-3211
Published online March 2015 | e-ISSN: 1460-2199 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhv038
Integration of Distinct Objects in Visual Working Memory Depends on Strong Objecthood Cues Even for Different-Dimension Conjunctions

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  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neuroscience
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What makes an integrated object in visual working memory (WM)? Past evidence suggested that WM holds all features of multidimensional objects together, but struggles to integrate color–color conjunctions. This difficulty was previously attributed to a challenge in same-dimension integration, but here we argue that it arises from the integration of 2 distinct objects. To test this, we examined the integration of distinct different-dimension features (a colored square and a tilted bar). We monitored the contralateral delay activity, an event-related potential component sensitive to the number of objects in WM. The results indicated that color and orientation belonging to distinct objects in a shared location were not integrated in WM (Experiment 1), even following a common fate Gestalt cue (Experiment 2). These conjunctions were better integrated in a less demanding task (Experiment 3), and in the original WM task, but with a less individuating version of the original stimuli (Experiment 4). Our results identify the critical factor in WM integration at same- versus separate-objects, rather than at same- versus different-dimensions. Compared with the perfect integration of an object’s features, the integration of several objects is demanding, and depends on an interaction between the grouping cues and task demands, among other factors.

Keywords: contralateral delay activity; object integration; visual working memory

Journal Article.  10989 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Clinical Neuroscience ; Neuroscience

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