Visual working memory cannot trade quantity for quality

Ayelet Ramaty, Roy Luria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two main models have been proposed to describe how visual working memory (WM) allocates its capacity: the slot-model and the continuous resource-model. The purpose of the current study was to test a direct prediction of the resource model suggesting that WM can trade-offbetween the quantity and quality of the encoded information. Previous research reported equivocal results, with studies that failed to find such a trade-offand other studies that reported a trade-off. Following the design of previous studies, in Experiment 1 we replicated this trade-off, by presenting the memory array for 1200 ms. Experiment 2 failed to observe a trade-offbetween quantity and quality using a memory array interval of 300 ms (a standard interval for visual WM). Experiment 3 again failed to find this trade-off, when reinstating the 1200 ms memory array interval but adding an articulatory suppression manipulation. We argue that while participants can trade quantity for quality, this pattern depends on verbal encoding and transfer to long-term memory processes that were possible to perform only during the long retention interval. When these processes were eliminated, the trade-offdisappeared. Thus, we didn't find any evidence that the trade-offbetween quantity for quality can occur within visual WM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number719
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - 24 May 2018


  • Capacity allocation
  • Quality
  • Quantity
  • Resolution
  • Visual working memory

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Visual working memory cannot trade quantity for quality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this