Gradual formation of visual working memory representations of motion directions

Hiroyuki Tsuda, Jun Saiki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Although it is well accepted that the formation of visual working memory (VWM) representations from simple static features is a rapid and effortless process that completes within several hundred milliseconds, the storage of motion information in VWM within that time scale can be challenging due to the limited processing capacity of the visual system. Memory formation can also be demanding especially when motion stimuli are visually complex. Here, we investigated whether the formation of VWM representations of motion direction is more gradual than that of static orientation and examined the effects of stimulus complexity on that process. To address these issues, we examined how the number and the precision of stored items in VWM develop over time by using a continuous report procedure. Results showed that while a viewing duration of several seconds was required for the successful storage of multiple motion directions in VWM regardless of motion complexity, the accumulation of memory precision was much slower when the motion stimulus was visually complex (Experiments 1 & 2). Additional experiments showed that the difference in memory performance for simple and complex motion stimuli cannot be explained by differences in signal-to-noise levels of the stimulus (Experiment 3). These results demonstrate remarkable temporal limitations in the formation of VWM representations for dynamic objects, and further show how this process is affected by stimulus properties such as visual complexity and signal-to-noise levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-309
Number of pages14
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 15
Externally publishedYes


  • Complexity
  • Consolidation
  • Motion perception
  • Noise
  • Visual working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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