Cross-domain interference costs during concurrent verbal and spatial serial memory tasks are asymmetric

Candice C. Morey*, Jonathan T. Mall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Some evidence suggests that memory for serial order is domain-general. Evidence also points to asymmetries in interference between verbal and visual-spatial tasks. We confirm that concurrently remembering verbal and spatial serial lists provokes substantial interference compared with remembering a single list, but we further investigate the impact of this interference throughout the serial position curve, where asymmetries are indeed apparent. A concurrent verbal order memory task affects spatial memory performance throughout the serial positions of the list, but performing a spatial order task affects memory for the verbal serial list only for early list items; in the verbal task only, the final items are unaffected by a concurrent task. Adding suffixes eliminates this asymmetry, resulting in impairment throughout the list for both tasks. These results suggest that domain-general working memory resources may be supplemented with resources specific to the verbal domain, but perhaps not with equivalent spatial resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1777-1797
Number of pages21
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • TIME
  • Working memory
  • Spatial short-term memory
  • Verbal short-term memory
  • Serial memory
  • Attention


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