Efficient performance in an environment filled with complex objects is often achieved through the temporal maintenance of conjunctions of features from multiple dimensions. The most striking finding in the study of binding in visual short-term memory (VSTM) is equal memory performance for single features and for integrated multi-feature objects, a finding that has been central to several theories of VSTM. Nevertheless, research on binding in VSTM focused almost exclusively on low-level features, and little is known about how items from low- and high-level visual dimensions (e.g., colored manmade objects) are maintained simultaneously in VSTM. The present study tested memory for combinations of low-level features and high-level representations. In agreement with previous findings, Experiments 1 and 2 showed decrements in memory performance when non-integrated low- and high-level stimuli were maintained simultaneously compared to maintaining each dimension in isolation. However, contrary to previous findings the results of Experiments 3 and 4 showed decrements in memory performance even when integrated objects of low- and high-level stimuli were maintained in memory, compared to maintaining single-dimension objects. Overall, the results demonstrate that low- and high-level visual dimensions compete for the same limited memory capacity, and offer a more comprehensive view of VSTM.
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