Modality Specificity and Integration in Working Memory: Insights from Visuospatial Bootstrapping
Allen, Richard J.
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Allen, R., Havelka, J., Falcon, T., Evans, S. & Darling, S. (2014) Modality Specificity and Integration in Working Memory: Insights from Visuospatial Bootstrapping. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 41 (3), pp. 820-830.
The question of how meaningful associations between verbal and spatial information might be utilized to facilitate working memory performance is potentially highly nstructive for models of memory function. The present study explored how separable processing capacities within specialized domains might each contribute to this, by examining the disruptive impacts of simple verbal and spatial concurrent tasks on young adults' recall of visually presented digit sequences encountered either in a single location or within a meaningful spatial 'keypad' configuration. The previously observed advantage for recall in the latter condition (the 'visuospatial bootstrapping effect') consistently emerged across three experiments, indicating use of familiar spatial information in boosting verbal memory. The magnitude of this effect interacted with concurrent activity; articulatory suppression during encoding disrupted recall to a greater extent when digits were presented in single locations (Experiment 1), while spatial tapping during encoding had a larger impact on the keypad condition and abolished the visuospatial bootstrapping advantage (Experiment 2). When spatial tapping was performed during recall (Experiment 3), no task by display interaction was observed. Outcomes are discussed within the context of the multicomponent model of working memory, with a particular emphasis on cross-domain storage in the episodic buffer (Baddeley, 2000).