”Visuospatial bootstrapping: Will presenting words in a consistent pattern facilitate better learning?”
Previous studies have shown that presenting familiar visuospatial information alongside to-be-remembered numbers in serial digit recall tasks have enhanced participants memory for those items (Darling & Havelka, 2010). This pattern, termed visuospatial bootstrapping, refers to the binding between verbal and visuospatial short-term memory with long-term memory representations (Darling, Allen, Havelka, Campell & Rattray, 2012). It is argued that this pattern is hard to reconcile with the traditional model of working memory, and that the binding effect provides evidence towards models of working memory that incorporate an episodic buffer (Baddeley, Allen, Hitch, 2011). The current study was particularly concerned with presenting the to-be-remembered items in a consistent pattern, as well as investigating whether a similar bootstrapping effect would be observed in a long-term memory experiment that focused on word learning. 28 participants were recruited to take part in the experiment, in which they were instructed to recall series of nine non-words shown on two different display types. The first condition displayed the sequences of non-words in a consistent pattern, whereas the second condition inconsistently mapped the non-to various positions. Overall, the results of the current study found that the participants learned the non-words significantly better in the Consistent Arrangement condition compared to the non-words that were inconsistently presented on the keypad. Collectively, these findings suggested that the visuospatial bootstrapping approach facilitated better learning in long-term memory. Further theoretical and practical implications of the results are described.