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

Halely Balaban, Roy Luria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2093-2104
Number of pages12
JournalCerebral Cortex
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2016

Keywords

  • contralateral delay activity
  • object integration
  • visual working memory

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