The temporal locus of the categorical bias in spatial memories

Cristina Sampaio, Ranxiao Frances Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


People often use the region of a target's location to make judgements about its exact position. Although there is general agreement that this category-based effect is due to a blending of the specific coding of a target's location and the categorical coding of its region, there is little agreement on when the blending occurs. The current paper examines whether the systematic bias is the result of combining separate undistorted mental representations at the time of retrieval or a result of using a category-distorted mental representation. Participants studied a dot within a circle and reproduced its location from memory after a short or long delay, and new categorical information was introduced during target retrieval. The results showed a larger increase over time in the biases caused by the new category introduced at retrieval than in the biases caused by the originally encoded category. The findings are consistent with retrieval models, providing evidence that category biasing processes operate at the time of memory retrieval.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-788
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Dec 21 2012



  • Category adjustment model
  • Category bias
  • Spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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