Washington [US]: A new study has shown that in natural vision, visual memory of images is affected by the size of the image on the retina. The research has been published in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal’.
A new study led by Dr Sharon Gilaie-Dotan, of Bar-Ilan University’s School of Optometry and Vision Science and Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Center, undertook a study to establish whether large images are better remembered than small ones during natural daily behavior. The reason behind her assumption was based on the very fact that large images require the visual system to utilize greater resources to process them.
These findings can have many implications, including on the utilization of various kinds of electronic screens and also the quality of information processing when we rely on large vs. small screens.
Shaimaa Masarwa and Olga Kreichman, PhD students in Dr Gilaie-Dotan’s lab, examined how visual memory responded when participants were asked to look at pictures without knowing anything about a memory task coming up. Each participant was shown different pictures in different sizes, and each picture was presented to them just once.
They found that most images were better remembered when they were presented as bigger relative to when they were presented as smaller. “In areas of the brain that represent the retinal image, more resources will be directed to processing large images than to processing smaller images because the processing is determined by the area of the retina that the image stimulates,” said Dr Gilaie-Dotan.
While the study examined only static images, the findings could have important implications on the “screen generation,” which consumes much of its information on small electronic devices.
“It is possible that even in dynamic images, like videos, greater vision resources will be directed towards processing videos on large vs. small screens and, therefore, videos on the big screen will likely be better remembered,” said Gilaie-Dotan.
Additionally, many high schools textbooks today are available in electronic format, and students sometimes study on their smartphones. While the smartphone screen is handy and accessible, in practice the quality of learning may be better on a bigger screen.