We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Visual Working Memory?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Visual working memory is an area of memory storage that allows the brain to retain visual information for a very brief period of time, often only a few seconds, for the purpose of completing a specific task. This forms part of the overall working memory, which can also store other forms of information, like verbal data, for immediate use. Research on visual working memory helps scientists understand the processes of memory formation and task completion, and can also establish important information about how people respond to rapid changes in the visual environment.

Working memory is the conduit through which memories move so the brain can use them. Short term memories can be brought up in working memory if they are needed, while when the brain recalls long term memories, they appear in working memory to create access. People use visual working memory regularly and without conscious thought to navigate the world around them. It may be necessary to keep visual information in mind while not actively looking at it and receiving real time visual stimulation for activities ranging from construction to academic studies.

The number of objects available in visual working memory appear to be finite, and it is much more limited than verbal working memory. Research also shows that it appears difficult to train people with visual recall. Study subjects who can learn to keep long lists of words in their verbal working memory, for instance, cannot recall shapes, lines, colors, and other visual attributes of stimuli, even with the use of memory training techniques in an attempt to increase recall.

This area of the memory is also subject to interruption in the event of a significant stimulus or change. This allows people to react quickly while still retaining information in their visual working memory and ensures that even when this area is not very active, as when people are bored by dull stimuli, it can kick into high gear very quickly. A passenger on an aircraft, for example, might gaze absently out the window without thinking, but would jerk into awareness if the wing suddenly caught fire, as this would create a marked change in the visual environment.

Studies on visual working memory occur in cognitive science and psychology labs all over the world. Many studies need participants, and may provide opportunities to members of the general public who want to learn more about working memory and contribute to scientific research. Study participants sometimes receive a small stipend for their services and have an opportunity to add to the body of knowledge on memory, visual perception, and information storage.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.