chapter  5
12 Pages

Memory Functions in Visual Event Perception

I come to this symposium on memory not as a theorist in this field but as a student of event perception, especially visual space and motion perception. Admittedly, my reading in the impressive recent development of memory research is both scanty and selective. An important reason for my attempts to keep in touch with this research has been the hope to find, especially in the studies of short-term memory, some new material related to problems met with in my own theoretical work in visual motion perception. I must admit, however, that although this search has given some interesting contact with a field of research with high activity, studies of the type sought have been very rare. It has been hard to avoid the impression that for most students of memory, their research is tantamount to work with alphanumeric material and words. Words, words, and again words. As seen from my own viewpoint these studies deal with a rather special type of memory effects and maybe not with the most essential one. Why concentrate nearly all effort on this highly special and very late manifestation of the biological function termed memory and leave perceptual memory outside the sphere of interest? Memory functions in connection with perception probably represent prototypes for the more advanced forms met with in the cognitive sphere of man. My own work in the field of perception has convinced me that there exist highly interesting memory effects in connection with everyday perception. These are possible to study experimentally but represent a field yet hardly more than touched upon. Of course there exist some exceptions to my statement about lack of interest for memory research outside the semantic area-some

excellent exceptions, indeed. One such exception is Neisser's (1967) broad perception - memory - cognition approach; another recent one is Turvey's (1977) highly relevant and competent analysis of visual information processing.