Short report: is spatial information encoded automatically in memory?

Q J Exp Psychol A. 1993 May;46(2):365-75. doi: 10.1080/14640749308401051.


A dual-task paradigm was used to test Hasher and Zacks' (1979) hypothesis that spatial memory is automatic. Subjects saw two sets of 16 words each, the words being presented singly in random corners of a monitor screen. They were asked to remember the words and the corner in which each word was shown. In addition, subjects were given a concurrent task to perform. This task was either "easy" (counting aloud by ones) or "difficult" (counting aloud by sevens). Attention was focused either on the memory task or on the counting task. Word recognition was better when subjects carried out the easier competing counting task and when subjects concentrated mainly upon remembering the words and their positions. Contingent spatial memory was unaffected by either manipulation, supporting the hypothesis that spatial memory is automatic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Reaction Time
  • Reading
  • Space Perception*