Hemifield asymmetries differentiate VSTM for single- and multiple-feature objects.


Visual short-term memory (VSTM) is a capacity-limited system for maintaining visual information across brief durations. Limits in the amount of information held in memory reflect processing constraints in the intraparietal sulcus (IPS), a region of the frontoparietal network also involved in visual attention. During VSTM and visual attention, areas of IPS demonstrate hemispheric asymmetries. Whereas the left hemisphere represents information in only the right hemifield, the right hemisphere represents information across the visual field. In visual attention, hemispheric asymmetries are associated with differences in behavioral performance across the visual field. In order to assess the degree of hemifield asymmetries in VSTM, we measured memory performance across the visual field for both single- and two-feature objects. Consistent with theories of right-hemisphere dominance, there was a memory benefit for single-feature items in the left visual hemifield. However, when the number of features increased, the behavioral bias reversed, demonstrating a benefit for remembering two-feature objects in the right hemifield. On an individual basis, the cost of remembering an additional feature in the hemifields was correlated, suggesting that the shift in hemifield biases reflected a redistribution of resources across the visual field. Furthermore, we demonstrate that these results cannot be explained by differences in perceptual or decision-making load. Our results are consistent with a flexible resource model of VSTM in which attention and/or working memory demands result in representation of items in the right hemifield by both the left and right hemispheres.

DOI: 10.3758/s13414-014-0689-0

Cite this paper

@article{Sheremata2014HemifieldAD, title={Hemifield asymmetries differentiate VSTM for single- and multiple-feature objects.}, author={Summer L. Sheremata and Sarah Shomstein}, journal={Attention, perception & psychophysics}, year={2014}, volume={76 6}, pages={1609-19} }