Characteristics of spatial memory span: is there an analogy to the word length effect, based on movement time?

Smyth, M. M. and Scholey, K. A. (1994) Characteristics of spatial memory span: is there an analogy to the word length effect, based on movement time? The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 47 (1). pp. 91-117. ISSN 1747-0226

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In studies of verbal short-term memory it has been shown that the length of words to be remembered affects the size of memory span. This word-length effect is attributed to relationships between the rate of rehearsal of verbal material and the time it takes to speak the words being rehearsed. For spatial memory span there may also be an internal rehearsal system linked to overt responding, and if there is a strong analogy to be drawn between the verbal and spatial domains then movement time between spatial targets should predict the number of spatial locations that can be recalled. In the experiments reported here the time taken to move between spatial targets is varied by altering the size of targets and the distance between them. No difference between span performance on a nine-block spatial span task were found, either on immediate recall or on recall after an interval. When recall is of items from an array of 27, grouped in nine sets of three, with only one location in any set being presented on any trial, there is an effect of display size. This effect is consonant with the argument that movement time is related to spatial rehearsal, but other explanations are also possible. However, if recall in this task is scored over the nine sets rather than over the 27 items, then there is no difference between the displays. The results indicate that performance on the normal nine-block spatial-span task cannot be predicted by movement time.

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The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
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31 Oct 2008 16:27
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19 Sep 2023 00:13