Verbal Shadowing and Visual Interference in Spatial Memory

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Spatial memory is thought to be organized along experienced views and allocentric reference axes. Memory access from different perspectives typically yields V-patterns for egocentric encoding (monotonic decline in performance along with the angular deviation from the experienced perspectives) and W-patterns for axes encoding (better performance along parallel and orthogonal perspectives than along oblique perspectives). We showed that learning an object array with a verbal secondary task reduced W-patterns compared with learning without verbal shadowing. This suggests that axes encoding happened in a verbal format; for example, by rows and columns. Alternatively, general cognitive load from the secondary task prevented memorizing relative to a spatial axis. Independent of encoding, pointing with a surrounding room visible yielded stronger W-patterns compared with pointing with no room visible. This suggests that the visible room geometry interfered with the memorized room geometry. With verbal shadowing and without visual interference only V-patterns remained; otherwise, V- and W-patterns were combined. Verbal encoding and visual interference explain when W-patterns can be expected alongside V-patterns and thus can help in resolving different performance patterns in a wide range of experiments. © 2013 Meilinger et al.




Meilinger, T., & Bülthoff, H. H. (2013). Verbal Shadowing and Visual Interference in Spatial Memory. PLoS ONE, 8(9).

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