Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

How brains update visual memory

We take the way we see and process information for granted every day. The mechanisms behind how this information is updated in our brains all the time, however, remains a mystery.
How brains update visual memory
We hold visual information in our minds to guide our actions through visual short-term memory (VSTM). The information in our VSTM needs to be constantly updated, but this updating process is not well understood.

Research on verbal short-term memory shows two kinds of updating: local and global. Local updating modifies the information, followed by global updating, which replaces the old information with the new.

To find out whether similar processes take place in VSTM, the EU-funded VSTM UPDATING (Cognitive and electrophysiological mechanisms of visual short-term memory updating) initiative aimed to investigate mechanisms by which VSTM updating occurs in the brain.

Project researchers wanted to investigate the mechanisms by which VSTM information is entered, changed and removed. They conducted experiments where they gave participants recognition-based tests after they were shown new information displayed on screens.

The researchers wanted to find the electrophysiological mechanisms that go into VSTM updating. They placed skin electrodes on participants to measure what is called the event-related potential.

VSTM UPDATING found that participants were better able to remember later items shown on screens, which is consistent with local updating. They also found that event-related potential results were consistent with both local and global updating.

In the long-term, this information will help neurological researchers better understand how human memory works.

Related information


Brains, visual information, visual short-term memory, electrophysiological, event-related potential
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