Research Topic

Understanding the Operation of Visual Working Memory in Rich Complex Visual Context

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About this Research Topic

Working memory (WM) is a limited capacity cognitive system that creates a temporal continuity in an ever-changing environment, by retaining and manipulating information for short periods of time. The visual aspect of WM (VWM) affords the maintenance of a limited set of visual information, supporting online ...

Working memory (WM) is a limited capacity cognitive system that creates a temporal continuity in an ever-changing environment, by retaining and manipulating information for short periods of time. The visual aspect of WM (VWM) affords the maintenance of a limited set of visual information, supporting online goal-directed behavior. Much work in the field of VWM has focused on identifying the basic units of VWM and the number of units that can be stored simultaneously, given its limited capacity. As such, many of the studies in the field focus on the maintenance of basic, isolated, and often arbitrary visual stimuli. The natural world in which we operate is more complex, and in contrast to these simple visual displays, it consists of multiple interconnected items, which are often organized based on statistical regularities or general or more personal prior-knowledge (e.g., expertise). Items in VWM can also gain prioritized processing through, for instance, emotional significance, biological relevance, reward value or reference to the self. While all these stimuli characteristics exert an influence on VWM during our everyday behavior, they have gained relatively less attention in the literature, and have gained even less attention from a developmental perspective.
Whether leading theories in VWM, which are mostly based on results from studies using isolated simple visual stimuli, apply to the more complex visual displays, still remains unclear.

The goal of the present Research Topic is to broaden our knowledge regarding the maintenance of complex information in VWM.
We welcome authors to submit empirical studies as well as reviews, focusing on behavioral or neuroscientific methods, which explore the impact of structure, context or saliency on VWM, broadly defined. Contributions may explore the influence of perceptual organization on VWM performance, the processing stage during which organization exerts its impact of performance, and the neural processing of organized displays. We also welcome studies exploring the impact of past-experience, prior-knowledge and relevance on VWM, and the interaction of VWM with other systems such as long-term memory and emotions.
This Research Topic encourages research performed across the lifespan, investigating the development of VWM for rich visual displays, and the extent to which this type of visual information influences performance in aging.


Keywords: Visual working memory, Gestalt, Regularities, Aging, Development, Emotion


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