Hanging on the telephone: Maintaining visuospatial bootstrapping over time in working memory
Allen, Richard J.
Morey, Candice C.
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Allen, R.J., Havelka, J., Morey, C.C. and Darling, S. (2023) ‘Hanging on the telephone: Maintaining visuospatial bootstrapping over time in working memory’, Memory & Cognition [Preprint].
Visuospatial bootstrapping (VSB) refers to the phenomenon in which performance on a verbal working memory task can be enhanced by presenting the verbal material within a familiar visuospatial configuration. This effect is part of a broader literature concerning how working memory is influenced by use of multimodal codes and contributions from long-term memory. The present study aimed to establish whether the VSB effect extends over a brief (5s) delay period, and to explore the possible mechanisms operating during retention. The VSB effect, as indicated by a verbal recall advantage for digit sequences presented within a familiar visuospatial configuration (modelled on the T-9 keypad) relative to a single location display, was observed across four experiments. The presence and size of this effect changed with the type of concurrent task activity applied during the delay. Articulatory suppression (Experiment 1) increased the visuospatial display advantage, while spatial tapping (Experiment 2) and a visuospatial judgment task (Experiment 3) both removed it. Finally, manipulation of the attentional demands placed by a verbal task also reduced (but did not abolish) this effect (Experiment 4). This pattern of findings demonstrates how provision of familiar visuospatial information at encoding can continue to support verbal working memory over time, with varying demands on modality-specific and general processing resources.