Associative learning improves visual working memory performance

Ingrid R. Olson, Yuhong Jiang, Katherine Sledge Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The ability to remember visual stimuli over a short delay period is limited by the small capacity of visual working memory (VWM). Here the authors investigate the role of learning in enhancing VWM. Participants saw 2 spatial arrays separated by a 1-s interval. The 2 arrays were identical except for 1 location. Participants had to detect the difference. Unknown to the participants, some spatial arrays would repeat once every dozen trials or so for up to 32 repetitions. Spatial VWM performance increased significantly when the same location changed across display repetitions, but not at all when different locations changed from one display repetition to another. The authors suggest that a major role of learning in VWM is to mediate which information gets retained, rather than to directly increase VWM capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)889-900
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Change detection
  • Chunking
  • Learning
  • Training
  • Visual short-term memory


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