Evidence for the effect of depth on visual working memory

Jiehui Qian, Jiaofeng Li, Kaiyue Wang, Shengxi Liu, Quan Lei

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13 Scopus citations


Visual working memory (VWM) is a cognitive memory buffer for temporarily holding, processing, and manipulating visual information. Previous studies have demonstrated mixed results of the effect of depth perception on VWM, with some showing a beneficial effect while others not. In this study, we employed an adapted change detection paradigm to investigate the effects of two depth cues, binocular disparity and relative size. The memory array consisted of a set of pseudo-randomly positioned colored items, and the task was to judge whether the test item was changed compared to the memory item after a retention interval. We found that presenting the items in stereoscopic depth alone hardly affected VWM performance. When combining the two coherent depth cues, a significant larger VWM capacity of the perceptually closer-in-depth items was observed than that of the farther items, but the capacity for the two-depth-planes condition was not significantly different from that for the one-plane condition. Conflicting the two depth cues resulted in cancelling the beneficial effect of presenting items at a closer depth plane. The results indicate that depth perception could affect VWM, and the visual system may have an advantage in maintaining closer-in-depth objects in working memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6408
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31500919) and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (14wkpy20).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


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