Spatial attention can bias the accuracy of eyewitness identification

Onwuegbusi, Tochukwu, Flowe, Heather, Barrett, Douglas , , and , (2013) Spatial attention can bias the accuracy of eyewitness identification. In: Annual meeting of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 26 - 29 June 2013, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Visual working memory (VWM) is a limited-capacity resource for the temporary storage of visual information (Cowan, 2001). Selective visual attention can protect VWM capacity by filtering relevant from irrelevant information during encoding or maintenance (Griffin & Nobre, 2003).The aim of the current study was to investigate changes in the accuracy of face recognition memory when attention was reflexively oriented to the location of a face before (pre-cue) or after (retro-cue) it was disappeared. The results indicate that VWM capacity for unfamiliar faces is poor and declines as a function of the number of faces in the display (load). When attention was oriented by a pre-cue, recall accuracy was independent of load, suggesting attention captures VWM resource in a reflexive manner. This advantage was not observed for retro-cued faces, suggesting reflexive attention operates by biasing VWM resources during encoding rather than the maintenance of remembered faces. These findings have a number of implications in real-world eyewitness scenarios. For example, the accuracy of eyewitness identification is likely to depend upon the number of individuals at the crime scene and differences in their salient visual characteristics.

Keywords:Visual memory, face recognition, selective attention
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:30671
Deposited On:16 Mar 2018 16:11

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