Long-term recognition memory for some pictures is consistently better than for others (Isola, Xiao, Parikh, Torralba, & Oliva, IEEE Transaction on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (PAMI), 36(7), 1469–1482, 2014). Here, we investigated whether pictures found to be memorable in a long-term memory test are also perceived more easily when presented in ultra-rapid RSVP. Participants viewed 6 pictures they had never seen before that were presented for 13 to 360 ms per picture in a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) sequence. In half the trials, one of the pictures was a memorable or a nonmemorable picture and perception of this picture was probed by a visual recognition test at the end of the sequence. Recognition for pictures from the memorable set was higher than for those from the nonmemorable set, and this difference increased with increasing duration. Nonmemorable picture recognition was low initially, did not increase until 120 ms, and never caught up with memorable picture recognition performance. Thus, the long-term memorability of an image is associated with initial perceptibility: A picture that is hard to grasp quickly is hard to remember later.
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