Perceptual organization and task demands jointly shape auditory working memory capacity
Listeners performed two different tasks in which they remembered short sequences comprising either complex tones (generally heard as one melody) or everyday sounds (generally heard as separate objects). In one, listeners judged whether a probe item had been present in the preceding sequence. In the other, they judged whether a second sequence of the same items was identical in order to the preceding sequence. Performance on the first task was higher for everyday sounds; performance on the second was higher for complex tones. These results suggest that how sequences are stored in working memory depends on perceptual organization.