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Dissociating visuo-spatial and verbal working memory: It’s all in the features

Poirier, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-1169-6424, Yearsley, J. ORCID: 0000-0003-4604-1839, Saint-Aubin, J. , Fortin, C., Gallant, G. & Guitard, D. (2018). Dissociating visuo-spatial and verbal working memory: It’s all in the features. Memory and Cognition, 47(4), pp. 603-618. doi: 10.3758/s13421-018-0882-9


Echoing many of the themes of the seminal work of Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968), this paper uses the Feature Model (Nairne, 1988, 1990; Neath & Nairne, 1995) to account for performance in working memory tasks. The Brooks verbal and visuo-spatial matrix tasks were performed alone, with articulatory suppression, or with a spatial suppression task; the results produced the expected dissociation. We used Approximate Bayesian Computation techniques to fit the Feature Model to the data and showed that the similarity-based interference process implemented in the model accounted for the data patterns well. We then fit the model to data from Guérard and Tremblay (2008); the latter study produced a double dissociation while calling upon more typical order reconstruction tasks. Again, the model performed well. The findings show that a double dissociation can be modelled without appealing to separate systems for verbal and visuo-spatial processing. The latter findings are significant as the Feature Model had not been used to model this type of dissociation before; importantly, this is also the first time the model is quantitatively fit to data. For the demonstration provided here, modularity was unnecessary if two assumptions were made: (1) the main difference between spatial and verbal working memory tasks is the features that are encoded; (2) secondary tasks selectively interfere with primary tasks to the extent that both tasks involve similar features. It is argued that a feature-based view is more parsimonious (see Morey, 2018) and offers flexibility in accounting for multiple benchmark effects in the field.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Working memory, Memory models, Short term memory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Poirier2018_Article_DissociatingVisuo-spatialAndVe.pdf]
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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