Parallel processing of spatial and serial order information before moving to a remembered target

J Neurophysiol. 2005 Jun;93(6):3703-8. doi: 10.1152/jn.00972.2004. Epub 2004 Dec 29.


Information storage and retrieval from working memory is limited by the capacity of storage mechanisms and attentional processes. Nevertheless, it has been shown that processing of multiple features can proceed independently in working memory. In this study we investigated how serial order and directional information are processed when executing a movement to a remembered target direction. We compared the performance of 11 healthy subjects in 3 motor working memory tasks, one with a varying spatial memory load, one with a varying serial order memory load, and one in which memory load was varied for both features. We found that the spatial information memory load does not affect the ability to store information about serial order and vice versa. Furthermore, movement response latencies indicated that retrieval of information about both features proceeds simultaneously. These results strongly favor independent, parallel working memory systems for processing space and order information in the motor system.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Probability
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*