Higher-contrast images are better remembered during naturalistic encoding

Limor Brook, Olga Kreichman, Shaimaa Masarwa, Sharon Gilaie-Dotan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is unclear whether memory for images of poorer visibility (as low contrast or small size) will be lower due to weak signals elicited in early visual processing stages, or perhaps better since their processing may entail top-down processes (as effort and attention) associated with deeper encoding. We have recently shown that during naturalistic encoding (free viewing without task-related modulations), for image sizes between 3°–24°, bigger images stimulating more visual system processing resources at early processing stages are better remembered. Similar to size, higher contrast leads to higher activity in early visual processing. Therefore, here we hypothesized that during naturalistic encoding, at critical visibility ranges, higher contrast images will lead to higher signal-to-noise ratio and better signal quality flowing downstream and will thus be better remembered. Indeed, we found that during naturalistic encoding higher contrast images were remembered better than lower contrast ones (~ 15% higher accuracy, ~ 1.58 times better) for images at 7.5–60 RMS contrast range. Although image contrast and size modulate early visual processing very differently, our results further substantiate that at poor visibility ranges, during naturalistic non-instructed visual behavior, physical image dimensions (contributing to image visibility) impact image memory.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13445
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Jun 2024

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