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Memory color of natural familiar objects: Effects of surface texture and 3-D shape

Lookup NU author(s): Milena Vurro, Dr Yazhu Ling, Professor Anya Hurlbert


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Natural objects typically possess characteristic contours, chromatic surface textures, and three-dimensional shapes. These diagnostic features aid object recognition, as does memory color, the color most associated in memory with a particular object. Here we aim to determine whether polychromatic surface texture, 3-D shape, and contour diagnosticity improve memory color for familiar objects, separately and in combination. We use solid three-dimensional familiar objects rendered with their natural texture, which participants adjust in real time to match their memory color for the object. We analyze mean, accuracy, and precision of the memory color settings relative to the natural color of the objects under the same conditions. We find that in all conditions, memory colors deviate slightly but significantly in the same direction from the natural color. Surface polychromaticity, shape diagnosticity, and three dimensionality each improve memory color accuracy, relative to uniformly colored, generic, or two-dimensional shapes, respectively. Shape diagnosticity improves the precision of memory color also, and there is a trend for polychromaticity to do so as well. Differently from other studies, we find that the object contour alone also improves memory color. Thus, enhancing the naturalness of the stimulus, in terms of either surface or shape properties, enhances the accuracy and precision of memory color. The results support the hypothesis that memory color representations are polychromatic and are synergistically linked with diagnostic shape representations.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vurro M, Ling Y, Hurlbert AC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Vision

Year: 2013

Volume: 13

Issue: 7

Print publication date: 28/06/2013

Date deposited: 04/07/2013

ISSN (electronic): 1534-7362

Publisher: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology


DOI: 10.1167/13.7.20


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Funder referenceFunder name
EP/D068738EPSRC project grant