Functional equivalence of verbal and spatial information in serial short-term memory

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1995 Jul;21(4):1008-18. doi: 10.1037//0278-7393.21.4.1008.


Performance on a test of serial memory for the spatial position of a sequence of dots showed similarities to typical results from the serial recall of verbal material: a marked increase in error with increasing list length, a modest rise in error as retention interval increased, and bow-shaped serial position curves. This task was susceptible to interference from both a spatial task (rote tapping) and a verbal task (mouthed articulatory suppression) and also from the presence of irrelevant speech. Effects were comparable to those found with a serial verbal task that was generally similar in demand characteristics to the spatial task. As a generalization, disruption of the serial recall of visuospatial material was more marked if the interference conditions involved a changing sequence of actions or materials, but not if a single event (tap, mouthed utterance, or sound) was repeated.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Mental Recall
  • Space Perception*