Using Visual Change Detection to Examine the Functional Architecture of Visual Short-Term Memory

Burmester, Alexander (2009). Using Visual Change Detection to Examine the Functional Architecture of Visual Short-Term Memory PhD Thesis, School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Burmester, Alexander
Thesis Title Using Visual Change Detection to Examine the Functional Architecture of Visual Short-Term Memory
School, Centre or Institute School of Human Movement Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-10
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status Other
Supervisor Guy Wallis
James Tresilian
Total pages 217
Language eng
Subjects 11 Medical and Health Sciences
Abstract/Summary A common problem in vision research is explaining how humans perceive a coherent, detailed and stable world despite the fact that the eyes make constant, jumpy movements and the fact that only a small part of the visual field can be resolved in detail at any one time. This is essentially a problem of integration over time - how successive views of the visual world can be used to create the impression of a continuous and stable environment. A common way of studying this problem is to use complete visual scenes as stimuli and present a changed scene after a disruption such as an eye movement or a blank screen. It is found in these studies that observers have great difficulty detecting changes made during a disruption, even though these changes are immediately and easily detectable when the disruption is removed. These results have highlighted the importance of motion cues in tracking changes to the environment, but also reveal the limited nature of the internal representation. Change blindness studies are interesting as demonstrations but can be difficult to interpret as they are usually applied to complex, naturalistic scenes. More traditional studies of scene analysis, such as visual search, are more abstract in their formulation, but offer more controlled stimulus conditions. In a typical visual search task, observers are presented with an array of objects against a uniform background and are required to report on the presence or absence of a target object that is differentiable from the other objects in some way. More recently, scene analysis has been investigated by combining change blindness and visual search in the `visual search for change' paradigm, in which observers must search for a target object defined by a change over two presentations of the set of objects. The experiments of this thesis investigate change blindness using the visual search for change paradigm, but also use principles of design from psychophysical experiments, dealing with detection and discrimination of basic visual qualities such as colour, speed, size, orientation and spatial frequency. This allows the experiments to precisely examine the role of these different features in the change blindness process. More specifically, the experiments are designed to look at the capacity of visual short-term memory for different visual features, by examining the retention of this information across the temporal gaps in the change blindness experiments. The nature and fidelity of representations in visual short-term memory is also investigated by manipulating (i) the manner in which featural information is distributed across space and objects, (ii) the time for which the information is available, (iii) the manner in which observers must respond to that information. Results point to a model in which humans analyse objects in a scene at the level of features/attributes rather than at a pictorial/object level. Results also point to the fact that the working representations which humans retain during visual exploration are similarly feature- rather than object-based. In conclusion the thesis proposes a model of scene analysis in which attention and vSTM capacity limits are used to explain the results from a more information theoretic standpoint.
Keyword Vision

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Created: Wed, 11 Nov 2009, 14:04:37 EST by Mr Alexander Burmester on behalf of Library - Information Access Service