The Bigger Image Is Better Remembered, Research Finds

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Psychology News – A study at Bar-Ilan University reveals that images of bigger physical and retinal sizes are better remembered in natural daily behavior. The research looks to further investigate the correlation between the quality of learning and screen size, especially in the “screen generation”.

A study reveals that the visual memory of an image is determined by the physical and the retinal sizes of the said image.

The survey followed two phases. A group of 182 participants, aged 18–40, were shown two sets of small and large static images, without knowledge of any impending memory task. The images pertained to different visual categories (faces, people, hands, animals, food, flowers, indoor places, outdoor places, and vehicles) which were equally distributed between the two image sets. A test phase followed the exposure phase—wherein the participants were required to perform an old/new surprise recognition memory task on 320 mid-sized images and 160 “new” images that were presented randomly with the existing sequence.

The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, repeatedly show that the visual memory of images depends on the size and not the detail of the image. The bigger, even blurred, images are better remembered than the smaller and clear ones. The results also state that, in natural vision, the visual memory of images is affected by the retinal size (and not the world size) of the images. It has been inferred that the visual system directs greater resources towards processing larger retinal images in the brain, because of which this retinal imaging influences the created visual memory. However, a variety of other factors affect the visual memory of larger images, such as different eye movements, greater attention span, and image-elicited interest.

The researchers claim that the findings have greater implications for the “screen generation”, especially in cases where learning is facilitated through electronic screens. In fact, they look to conduct follow-up research to determine the correlation between quality of learning and size of the screens. They also seek to question the uniformity of the phenomenon in various situations, given that different ages are expected to be affected differently by their experiences with screens.

“It is possible that even in dynamic images, such as videos, greater vision resources will be directed towards processing videos on large vs. small screens and, therefore, videos on the large screen will likely be better remembered,” says Dr. Sharon Gilaie-Dotan, of Bar-Ilan University’s School of Optometry and Vision Science and Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center.

To Know More You May Relate To

Masarwa, S., Kreichman, O., & Gilaie-Dotan, S. (2022). Larger images are better remembered during naturalistic encoding. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(4), e2119614119.

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