Accessing long-term memory representations during visual change detection

Melissa R. Beck, Psychology Department, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 70808, USA.
Amanda E. van Lamsweerde


In visual change detection tasks, providing a cue to the change location concurrent with the test image (post-cue) can improve performance, suggesting that, without a cue, not all encoded representations are automatically accessed. Our studies examined the possibility that post-cues can encourage the retrieval of representations stored in long-term memory (LTM). Participants detected changes in images composed of familiar objects. Performance was better when the cue directed attention to the post-change object. Supporting the role of LTM in the cue effect, the effect was similar regardless of whether the cue was presented during the inter-stimulus interval, concurrent with the onset of the test image, or after the onset of the test image. Furthermore, the post-cue effect and LTM performance were similarly influenced by encoding time. These findings demonstrate that monitoring the visual world for changes does not automatically engage LTM retrieval.