Scene Memory Is More Detailed Than You Think:
The Role of Categories in Visual Long-Term Memory

Konkle, Brady, Alvarez, & Oliva

Humans constantly engage in automatic and rapid analysis of spatial Observers can store thousands of object images in visual long-term memory with high fidelity, but the fidelity of scene representations in long-term memory is not known. Here, we probed scene-representation fidelity by varying the number of studied exemplars in different scene categories and testing memory using exemplar-level foils. Observers viewed thousands of scenes over 5.5 hr and then completed a series of forced-choice tests. Memory performance was high, even with up to 64 scenes from the same category in memory. Moreover, there was only a 2% decrease in accuracy for each doubling of the number of studied scene exemplars. Surprisingly, this degree of categorical interference was similar to the degree previously demonstrated for object memory. Thus, although scenes have often been defined as a superset of objects, our results suggest that scenes and objects may be entities at a similar level of abstraction in visual long-term memory.

Konkle, T.,* Brady, T. F.,* Alvarez, G. A., & Oliva, A. (in press). Scene memory is more detailed than you think: the role of scene categories in visual long-term memory. Psychological Science.