Benefit of enactment over oral repetition of verbal instruction does not require additional working memory during encoding

Psychon Bull Rev. 2014 Feb;21(1):186-92. doi: 10.3758/s13423-013-0471-7.


For this research, we used a dual-task approach to investigate the involvement of working memory in following written instructions. In two experiments, participants read instructions to perform a series of actions on objects and then recalled the instructions either by spoken repetition or performance of the action sequence. Participants engaged in concurrent articulatory suppression, backward-counting, and spatial-tapping tasks during the presentation of the instructions, in order to disrupt the phonological-loop, central-executive, and visuospatial-sketchpad components of working memory, respectively. Recall accuracy was substantially disrupted by all three concurrent tasks, indicating that encoding and retaining verbal instructions depends on multiple components of working memory. The accuracy of recalling the instructions was greater when the actions were performed than when the instructions were repeated, and this advantage was unaffected by the concurrent tasks, suggesting that the benefit of enactment over oral repetition does not cost additional working memory resources.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Speech Perception / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Young Adult