Visual short-term memory

People gathered around computer screens

At the Vision and Eye Research Unit, we have been exploring how visual short-term memory declines with age, and whether visual short-term memory performance can serve as a biomarker for detection of early cognitive decline linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Visual short-term memory is a transient memory system that stores visual information active for a few seconds. This memory system is vital for performing ongoing cognitive tasks that underpin our everyday activities, such as scene perception and visual search. The key aspect of visual short-term memory system that we are interested in exploring is ‘memory binding’, which is a cognitive process by which different features of an object (such as colour, shape and name) are linked together in our memory.

We're interested in exploring this feature because brain areas that support memory binding are said to be affected early during the course of Alzheimer’s disease. However, there is very little evidence linking visual short-term memory binding and early cognitive decline.

Our published findings on healthy young subjects, healthy elderly subjects, and subjects with early dementia suggest that visual short-term memory deteriorates differently in response to the ageing process and the process of early dementia.

We are exploring deterioration in visual short-term memory binding by recruiting a larger sample of clinical population. Our psychophysics lab – which is equipped with a state-of-the-art eye tracking device, eyelink 1000 – is used for for conducting visual short-term memory experiments.

Professor Shahina Pardhan
Dr Raju Sapkota
Dr Ian van der Linde