An Investigation of Visual Memory: The Nexus Between Visual Perception and Memory

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Kelly, Kate Rhiannon (2018) An Investigation of Visual Memory: The Nexus Between Visual Perception and Memory. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Memory is one of the oldest and most researched cognitive domains, and while much is established about verbal memory, research about visual memory is largely inconclusive. Past research acknowledges that visual memory is a complex function and research regarding visual perception, in particular the two streams hypothesis, clearly highlights an anatomical and functional demarcation between spatial and object processes. The current project consists of three experiments that investigate performance on a series of visual memory tasks that were designed to measure memory for spatial information and for object information separately. Each of the experiments extended upon the results and ideas that emerged from the previous experiment's findings.The purpose of the three experiments included: 1. The development and piloting of an electronic visual memory test battery that has clear assessment tasks that measure spatial and object abilities separately for short term, working and long term memory function. 2. Investigating the differences between spatial and object memory performance to determine whether each stream potentially has a distinct capacity for visual information in comparison to the other. 3. Developing further assessment tasks to assess performance capabilities for information within each stream. This experiment explored the impact of frame of reference on spatial information and for contextual cues on object information. Major findings from the series of experiments suggest that visual memory is a complex cognitive system and that performance and capacity for information, is dependent on the nature of the information being remembered. This thesis highlights that spatial memory function and object memory function should be considered separate to both each other and to verbal memory function. Furthermore, context and the ability to verbalise visual information has the ability to enhance visual memory performance, even when presented with simplistic geometric lines. The utilisation of electronic media as a mode of assessment showed promise and allowed stimuli to be presented in a dynamic and standardised manner. While the developed electronic tasks showed promise further development is needed to successfully incorporate virtual reality into psychometric test batteries as well as to establish if a distinct capacity for each component of visual memory exists to mirror the known standard capacity of verbal memory.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR Classification > 1702 Cognitive Science
Current > Division/Research > College of Health and Biomedicine
Keywords visual memory; visual perception; memory; spatial memory; object memory
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