Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 07 May 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00126

Iconic memory requires attention

  • 1Program in Cognitive Neuroscience, City College, City University of New York, NY, USA
  • 2Department of Psychology, City College, City University of New York, NY, USA

Two experiments investigated whether attention plays a role in iconic memory, employing either a change detection paradigm (Experiment 1) or a partial-report paradigm (Experiment 2). In each experiment, attention was taxed during initial display presentation, focusing the manipulation on consolidation of information into iconic memory, prior to transfer into working memory. Observers were able to maintain high levels of performance (accuracy of change detection or categorization) even when concurrently performing an easy visual search task (low load). However, when the concurrent search was made difficult (high load), observers' performance dropped to almost chance levels, while search accuracy held at single-task levels. The effects of attentional load remained the same across paradigms. The results suggest that, without attention, participants consolidate in iconic memory only gross representations of the visual scene, information too impoverished for successful detection of perceptual change or categorization of features.

Keywords: attention, iconic memory, consciousness

Citation: Persuh M, Genzer B and Melara RD (2012) Iconic memory requires attention. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 6:126. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00126

Received: 01 February 2012; Accepted: 19 April 2012;
Published online: 07 May 2012.

Edited by:

Josef Parvizi, Stanford Medical School, USA

Reviewed by:

Melina Uncapher, Stanford University, USA
J. Benjamin Hutchinson, Princeton University, USA

Copyright: © 2012 Persuh, Genzer and Melara. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Robert D. Melara, Department of Psychology, City College, City University of New York, North Academic Complex (NAC), Room 7/120, 160 Convent Avenue, NY 10031, USA. e-mail: rmelara@ccny.cuny.edu

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