The Capacity of Visual Short Term Memory Determines the Bandwidth of Information Transfer into Visual Long Term Memory
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Visual long term memory (VLTM) research has shown that we are capable of learning a virtually infinite amount of visual information. At the same time, visual short term memory (VSTM) research has shown that there is a severe limitation in the amount of information we can simultaneously apprehend at a given time. How does the severe capacity limitation in the initial uptake of information influence the encoding of information into VLTM? To this date, there has been no direct test of such influence, and the effect of such limitation has been unclear. Here, we demonstrate that, across wide varieties of conditions, the severe-capacity limitation in VSTM dictates the encoding of information into VLTM by determining the "bandwidth" of information transfer. This finding has a substantial implication for the understanding of the role of severely-capacity limited VSTM in forming many types of VLTM representations.