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Development of memory for pattern and path: Further evidence for the fractionation of visuo-spatial memory

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Evidence from a number of sources now suggests that the visuo-spatial sketchpad (VSSP) of working memory may be composed of two subsystems: one for maintaining visual information and the other for spatial information. In this paper we present three experiments that examine this fractionation using a developmental approach. In Experiment 1, 5-, 8-, and 10-year old children were presented with a visuo-spatial working memory task (the matrices task) with two presentation formats (static and dynamic). A developmental dissociation in performance was found for the static and dynamic conditions of both tasks, suggesting that the activation of separable subsystems of the VSSP is dependent upon a static/dynamic distinction in information content rather than a visual/spatial one. A highly similar pattern of performance was found for a mazes task with static and dynamic formats. However, one strategic activity, the use of simple verbal recoding, may also have been responsible for the observed pattern of performance in the matrices task. In Experiments 2 and 3 this was investigated using concurrent articulatory suppression. No evidence to support this notion was found, and it is therefore proposed that static and dynamic visuo-spatial information is maintained in working memory by separable subcomponents of the VSSP.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

Publication date: May 1, 2001


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