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Interference with spatial immediate memory in the absence of eye movements.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1996
<mark>Journal</mark>Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Series a Human Experimental Psychology
Issue number4
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)940-949
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We have previously argued that rehearsal in spatial working memory is interfered with by spatial attention shifts rather than simply by movements to locations in space (Smyth & Scholey, 1994). It is possible, however, that the stimuli intended to induce attention shifts in our experiments also induced eye movements and interfered either with an overt eye movement rehearsal strategy or with a covert one. In the first experiment reported here, subjects fixated while they maintained a sequence of spatial items in memory before recalling them in order. Fixation did not affect recall, but auditory spatial stimuli presented during the interval did decrease performance, and it was further decreased if the stimuli were categorized as coming from the right or the left. A second experiment investigated the effects of auditory spatial stimuli to which no response was ever required and found that these did not interfere with performance, indicating that it is the spatial salience of targets that leads to interference. This interference from spatial input in the absence of any overt movement of the eyes or limbs is interpreted in terms of shifts of spatial attention or spatial monitoring, which Morris (1989) has suggested affects spatial encoding and which our findings suggest also affects reactivation in rehearsal.