Visual working memory limitations

Esport Coaching Science Abstracts

Liang, T., Cheng, Z., Hu, W. et al. Limitations of concurrently representing objects within view and in visual working memory. Sci Rep 10, 5351 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-62164-y


This study asked two questions:

  1. Do things that are visible to you compete with the same resources you use for visualization?
    • They hypothesized, in line with previous research, that there is a limited 3-4 slot space for visualizing anything, whether you can see it or not.
  2. does it matter if your visualized item is stored in an active state or silent state.
    • They hypothesized that only items stored in an active state took up one of those slots mentioned above.

Key take away’s were:

  • You can represent only a couple things in your brain visually, whether you can see them in your field of view or not you use the same resources to “see” them.
  • You shift things quickly from Active representation to Silent storage depending on if it is relevant to the task or not. And things in Silent storage do not take up space.
  • Whether you can see them or not, representing things in your brain takes place in the visual cortex, and silent storage relied on areas outside the sensory cortex: parietal cortex, frontal area, and others.

Key interpretations for esport coaching:

  • Visualizing a play before it happens is good. Visualizing a play when it is happening takes resources away from “seeing” what is happening on the screen.
  • A healthy system that shifts represented visual data between active and silent storage depends on attentional regulation. Therefore, it’s possible that highly trained and flexible attentional regulation will make the system work better.
  • Aside from that training, it’s certainly true that correctly assessing and focusing on task variables is very important. Therefore any time spent visualizing non-task variables takes resources away from task resources.