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ERIC Number: EJ1055906
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-May
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Attention to Attributes and Objects in Working Memory
Cowan, Nelson; Blume, Christopher L.; Saults, J. Scott
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v39 n3 p731-747 May 2013
It has been debated on the basis of change-detection procedures whether visual working memory is limited by the number of objects, task-relevant attributes within those objects, or bindings between attributes. This debate, however, has been hampered by several limitations, including the use of conditions that vary between studies and the absence of appropriate mathematical models to estimate the number of items in working memory in different stimulus conditions. We reexamined working memory limits in 2 experiments with a wide array of conditions involving color and shape attributes, relying on a set of new models to fit various stimulus situations. In Experiment 2, a new procedure allowed identical retrieval conditions across different conditions of attention at encoding. The results show that multiple attributes compete for attention, but that retaining the binding between attributes is accomplished only by retaining the attributes themselves. We propose a theoretical account in which a fixed object capacity limit contains within it the possibility of the incomplete retention of object attributes, depending on the direction of attention.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (DHHS)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: R01 HD-21338