Oculomotor control and the maintenance of spatially and temporally distributed events in visuo-spatial working memory

David Graham Pearson, Arash Sahraie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous studies have demonstrated that working memory for spatial location can be significantly disrupted by concurrent eye or limb movement (Baddeley, 1986; Smyth, Pearson, & Pendleton, 1988). Shifts in attention alone can also interfere with spatial span (Smyth & Scholey, 1994), even with no corresponding movement of the eyes or limbs (Smyth, 1996). What is not clear from these studies is how comparable is the magnitude of effect caused by different forms of spatial disrupter. Recently, it has been demonstrated that limb movements produce as much interference with spatial span as do reflexive saccades (Lawrence, Myerson, Oonk, & Abrams, 2001). In turn this has led to the hypothesis that all spatially directed movement can produce similar effects in visuo-spatial working memory. This paper reports the results of five experiments that have contrasted the effect of concurrent eye movement, limb movement, and covert attention shifts on participants' working memory for sequences of locations. All conditions involving concurrent eye movement produced significantly greater reduction in span than equivalent limb movement or covert attention shifts with eyes fixated. It is argued that these results demonstrate a crucial role for oculomotor control processes during the rehearsal of location-specific representations in working memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1111
Number of pages22
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. A, Human Experimental Psychology
Volume56
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003

Keywords

  • SHORT-TERM-MEMORY
  • SACCADIC EYE-MOVEMENTS
  • SELECTIVE ATTENTION
  • VISUAL MARKING
  • INTERFERENCE
  • INFORMATION
  • ACTIVATION
  • INHIBITION
  • COMPLEXITY
  • LOCATIONS

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