skip to main content


Search for: All records

Award ID contains: 2146988

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    When asked to remember a color, do people remember a point estimate (e.g., a particular shade of red), a point estimate plus an uncertainty estimate, or are memory representations rich probabilistic distributions over feature space? We asked participants to report the color of a circle held in working memory. Rather than collecting a single report per trial, we had participants place multiple bets to create trialwise uncertainty distributions. Bet dispersion correlated with performance, indicating that internal uncertainty guided bet placement. While the first bet was on average the most precisely placed, the later bets systematically shifted the distribution closer to the target, resulting in asymmetrical distributions about the first bet. This resulted in memory performance improvements when averaging across bets, and overall suggests that memory representations contain more information than can be conveyed by a single response. The later bets contained target information even when the first response would generally be classified as a guess or report of an incorrect item, suggesting that such failures are not all-or-none. This paradigm provides multiple pieces of evidence that memory representations are rich and probabilistic. Crucially, standard discrete response paradigms underestimate the amount of information in memory representations.

     
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Visual working memory is highly limited, and its capacity is tied to many indices of cognitive function. For this reason, there is much interest in understanding its architecture and the sources of its limited capacity. As part of this research effort, researchers often attempt to decompose visual working memory errors into different kinds of errors, with different origins. One of the most common kinds of memory error is referred to as a “swap,” where people report a value that closely resembles an item that was not probed (e.g., an incorrect, non-target item). This is typically assumed to reflect confusions, like location binding errors, which result in the wrong item being reported. Capturing swap rates reliably and validly is of great importance because it permits researchers to accurately decompose different sources of memory errors and elucidate the processes that give rise to them. Here, we ask whether different visual working memory models yield robust and consistent estimates of swap rates. This is a major gap in the literature because in both empirical and modeling work, researchers measure swaps without motivating their choice of swap model. Therefore, we use extensive parameter recovery simulations with three mainstream swap models to demonstrate how the choice of measurement model can result in very large differences in estimated swap rates. We find that these choices can have major implications for how swap rates are estimated to change across conditions. In particular, each of the three models we consider can lead to differential quantitative and qualitative interpretations of the data. Our work serves as a cautionary note to researchers as well as a guide for model-based measurement of visual working memory processes.

     
    more » « less
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2025
  4. In many decision tasks, we have a set of alternative choices and are faced with the problem of how to use our latent beliefs and preferences about each alternative to make a single choice. Cognitive and decision models typically presume that beliefs and preferences are distilled to a scalar latent strength for each alternative, but it is also critical to model how people use these latent strengths to choose a single alternative. Most models follow one of two traditions to establish this link. Modern psychophysics and memory researchers make use of signal detection theory, assuming that latent strengths are perturbed by noise, and the highest resulting signal is selected. By contrast, many modern decision theoretic modeling and machine learning approaches use the softmax function (which is based on Luce’s choice axiom; Luce, 1959) to give some weight to non-maximal-strength alternatives. Despite the prominence of these two theories of choice, current approaches rarely address the connection between them, and the choice of one or the other appears more motivated by the tradition in the relevant literature than by theoretical or empirical reasons to prefer one theory to the other. The goal of the current work is to revisit this topic by elucidating which of these two models provides a better characterization of latent processes in -alternative decision tasks, with a particular focus on memory tasks. In a set of visual memory experiments, we show that, within the same experimental design, the softmax parameter varies across -alternatives, whereas the parameter of the signal-detection model is stable. Together, our findings indicate that replacing softmax with signal-detection link models would yield more generalizable predictions across changes in task structure. More ambitiously, the invariance of signal detection model parameters across different tasks suggests that the parametric assumptions of these models may be more than just a mathematical convenience, but reflect something real about human decision-making. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  5. Ensemble perception is a process by which we summarize complex scenes. Despite the importance of ensemble perception to everyday cognition, there are few computational models that provide a formal account of this process. Here we develop and test a model in which ensemble representations reflect the global sum of activation signals across all individual items. We leverage this set of minimal assumptions to formally connect a model of memory for individual items to ensembles. We compare our ensemble model against a set of alternative models in five experiments. Our approach uses performance on a visual memory task for individual items to generate zero-free-parameter predictions of interindividual and intraindividual differences in performance on an ensemble continuous-report task. Our top-down modelling approach formally unifies models of memory for individual items and ensembles and opens a venue for building and comparing models of distinct memory processes and representations. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  6. Does sensory information reach conscious awareness in a discrete, all-or-nothing manner or a gradual, continuous manner? To answer this question, we examined behavioral performance across four different paradigms that manipulate visual awareness: the attentional blink, backward masking, the Sperling iconic memory paradigm, and retro-cuing. We then asked how well we could account for participants’ ( N = 112 adults) behavior using a signal detection framework that factors in psychophysical scaling to model participants’ responses along a single continuum. We found that this model easily accounted for the data from each of these diverse paradigms. Moreover, we reanalyzed the data from prior studies that had posited a discrete view of perceptual awareness and found that our continuous signal detection model outperformed the models that had been used to support an all-or-nothing view of consciousness. This set of data is consistent with the idea that conscious awareness occurs along a graded continuum.

     
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024