Different Features of Real-World Objects Are Represented in a Dependent Manner in Long-Term Memory

Halely Balaban, Dana Assaf, Moran Arad Meir, Roy Luria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the present study, we examined how real-world objects are represented in long-term memory. Two contrasting views exist with regard to this question: one argues that real-world objects are represented as a set of independent features, and the other argues that they form bound integrate representations. In 5 experiments, we tested the different predictions of each view, namely whether the different features of real-world items are remembered and forgotten independently from each other, in a feature-based manner, or conversely are stored and lost in an object-based manner, with all features depending upon each other. Across various stimuli, learning tasks (incidental or explicit), experimental setups (within- or between-subjects design), feature-dimensions, and encoding times, we consistently found that information is forgotten in an object-based manner. When an object ceases to be fully remembered, all of its features are lost, instead of only some of the object's features being lost whereas other features are still remembered. Furthermore, we found support for a strong form of dependency among the different features, namely a hierarchical structure. We conclude that visual long-term memory is object-based, challenging previous findings.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.


  • Feature dependency
  • Object-based representations
  • Visual long-term memory


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