Lack of color integration in visual short-term memory binding

Mario A Parra, Roberto Cubelli, Sergio Della Sala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Bicolored objects are retained in visual short-term memory (VSTM) less efficiently than unicolored objects. This is unlike shape-color combinations, whose retention in VSTM does not differ from that observed for shapes only. It is debated whether this is due to a lack of color integration and whether this may reflect the function of separate memory mechanisms. Participants judged whether the colors of bicolored objects (each with an external and an internalcolor) were the same or different across two consecutive screens. Colors had to be remembered either individually or in combination. In Experiment 1, external colors in the combined colors condition were remembered better than the internal colors, and performance for both was worse than that in the individual colors condition. The lack of color integration observed in Experiment 1 was further supported by a reduced capacity of VSTM to retain color combinations, relative to individual colors (Experiment 2). An additional account was found in Experiment 3, which showed spared color-color binding in the presence of impaired shape-color binding in a brain-damaged patient, thus suggesting that these two memory mechanisms are different.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1197
Number of pages11
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • memory binding
  • short-term memory
  • working memory
  • associative memory


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