In Sight, out of Mind: When Object Representations Fail

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Models of human visual memory often presuppose an extraordinary ability to recognize and identify objects, based on evidence for nearly flawless recognition of hundreds or even thousands of pictures after a single presentation (Nickerson, 1965; Shepard, 1967; Standing, Conezio, & Haber, 1970) and for storage of tens of thousands of object representations over the course of a lifetime (Biederman, 1987). However, recent evidence suggests that observers often fail to notice dramatic changes to scenes, especially changes occurring during eye movements (e.g., Grimes, 1996). The experiments presented here show that immediate memory for object identity is surpris-ingly poor, especially when verbal labeling is prevented. However, memory for the spatial configuration of objects remains excellent even with verbal interference, suggesting a fundamental difference between representations of spatial configuration and object properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-305
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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