Failure of self-consistency in the discrete resource model of visual working memory.
The discrete resource model of working memory proposes that each individual has a fixed upper limit on the number of items they can store at one time, due to division of memory into a few independent "slots". According to this model, responses on short-term memory tasks consist of a mixture of noisy recall (when the tested item is in memory) and random guessing (when the item is not in memory). This provides two opportunities to estimate capacity for each observer: first, based on their frequency of random guesses, and second, based on the set size at which the variability of stored items reaches a plateau. The discrete resource model makes the simple prediction that these two estimates will coincide. Data from eight published visual working memory experiments provide strong evidence against such a correspondence. These results present a challenge for discrete models of working memory that impose a fixed capacity limit.