High capacity, transient retention of direction-of-motion information for multiple objects
Tripathy, Srimant P.
Bedell, Harold E.
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The multiple-object tracking paradigm (MOT) has been used extensively for studying dynamic visual attention, but the basic mechanisms which subserve this capability are as yet unknown. Among the unresolved issues surrounding MOT are the relative importance of motion (as opposed to positional) information and the role of various memory mechanisms. We sought to quantify the capacity and dynamics for retention of direction-of-motion information when viewing a multiple-object motion stimulus similar to those used in MOT. Observers viewed three to nine objects in random linear motion and then reported motion direction after motion ended. Using a partial-report paradigm and varying the parameters of set size and time of retention, we found evidence for two complementary memory systems, one transient with high capacity and a second sustained system with low capacity. For the transient high-capacity memory, retention capacity was equally high whether object motion lasted several seconds or a fraction of a second. Also, a graded deterioration in performance with increased set size lends support to a flexible-capacity theory of MOT.