Accurate metacognition for visual sensory memory representations

A.R.E. Vandenbroucke, I.G. Sligte, A.B. Barrett, A.K. Seth, J.J. Fahrenfort, V.A.F. Lamme

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The capacity to attend to multiple objects in the visual field is limited. However, introspectively, people feel that they see the whole visual world at once. Some scholars suggest that this introspective feeling is based on short-lived sensory memory representations, whereas others argue that the feeling of seeing more than can be attended to is illusory. Here, we investigated this phenomenon by combining objective memory performance with subjective confidence ratings during a change-detection task. This allowed us to compute a measure of metacognition-the degree of knowledge that subjects have about the correctness of their decisions-for different stages of memory. We show that subjects store more objects in sensory memory than they can attend to but, at the same time, have similar metacognition for sensory memory and working memory representations. This suggests that these subjective impressions are not an illusion but accurate reflections of the richness of visual perception. © The Author(s) 2014.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-873
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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