Forgetting What Was Where: The Fragility of Object-Location Binding

Yoni Pertzov, Mia Yuan Dong, Muy Cheng Peich, Masud Husain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although we frequently take advantage of memory for objects locations in everyday life, understanding how an object's identity is bound correctly to its location remains unclear. Here we examine how information about object identity, location and crucially object-location associations are differentially susceptible to forgetting, over variable retention intervals and memory load. In our task, participants relocated objects to their remembered locations using a touchscreen. When participants mislocalized objects, their reports were clustered around the locations of other objects in the array, rather than occurring randomly. These 'swap' errors could not be attributed to simple failure to remember either the identity or location of the objects, but rather appeared to arise from failure to bind object identity and location in memory. Moreover, such binding failures significantly contributed to decline in localization performance over retention time. We conclude that when objects are forgotten they do not disappear completely from memory, but rather it is the links between identity and location that are prone to be broken over time.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere48214
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - 31 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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