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Visual long-term memory capacity appears massive and detailed when probed explicitly. In the real world, however, memories are usually built from chance encounters. Therefore, we investigated the capacity and detail of incidental memory in a novel encoding task, instructing participants to detect visually distorted objects among intact objects. In a subsequent surprise recognition memory test, lures of a novel category, another exemplar, the same object in a different state, or exactly the same object were presented. Lure recognition performance was above chance, suggesting that incidental encoding resulted in reliable memory formation. Critically, performance for state lures was worse than for exemplars, which was driven by a greater similarity of state as opposed to exemplar foils to the original objects. Our results indicate that incidentally generated visual long-term memory representations of isolated objects are more limited in detail than recently suggested.

Original publication

DOI

10.1177/1747021818783722

Type

Journal article

Journal

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove)

Publication Date

05/2019

Volume

72

Pages

1176 - 1182

Keywords

Object memory, fidelity, incidental memory, memory details, object recognition, visual long-term memory, Adult, Female, Humans, Male, Memory, Long-Term, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Recognition, Psychology, Young Adult