“Does visuospatial bootstrapping facilitate better performance in running memory span tasks”
Recent research has found that when to be remembered numbers are paired with additional visuospatial information participants generally perform better. Reasons for this difference are the binding of verbal and visuospatial memory with long-term memory representations which leads to the creation of the so-called bootstrapping effect. Most of such this research has suggested that this relationship is mainly a result of the episodic buffer binding the different systems withing working memory. However, these experiments always used a set amount of items that had to be remembered hence possibly allowing for an influence of practice on the observed effect. So far, little attention has been given to experiments that utilise running memory span by introducing lists of unknown length and how that possibly influences the effect. In the current study, 46 participants were recruited to take part in a running memory span task. Each participant was required to recall the last six numbers of a total of 27 sequences with unknown length per condition. Sequences were either presented at a short presentation time of 0.5s or a long 2s per item. The results of the current study provided further evidence for the bootstrapping effect with participants scoring higher in the typical layout. Hence, running memory span tasks can effectively be used to investigate the bootstrapping effect and possibly even provide better results as rehearsal of items is impossible due to the unpredictable end of the list. The non-significant interaction between layout and presentation time also supported the argument of an automatic bootstrapping effect that requires minimal attention.