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Title: Chunks are not "Content-Free": Hierarchical Representations Preserve Perceptual Detail within Chunks.
Chunks allow us to use long-term knowledge to efficiently represent the world in working memory. Most views of chunking assume that when we use chunks, this results in the loss of specific perceptual details, since it is presumed the contents of chunks are decoded from long-term memory rather than reflecting the exact details of the item that was presented. However, in two experiments, we find that in situations where participants make use of chunks to improve visual working memory, access to instance-specific perceptual detail (that cannot be retrieved from long-term memory) increased, rather than decreased. This supports an alternative view: that chunks facilitate the encoding and retention into memory of perceptual details as part of structured, hierarchical memories, rather than serving as mere “content-free” pointers. It also provides a strong contrast to accounts in which working memory capacity is assumed to be exhaustively described by the number of chunks remembered.  more » « less
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Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
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National Science Foundation
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