01/02/2019 Medicine Psychology
DOI: 10.3758/s13421-018-0865-x SemanticScholar ID: 52915812 MAG: 2895446105

Forward and backward recall of serial actions: Exploring the temporal dynamics of working memory for instruction

Publication Summary

The ability to flexibly retrieve and implement sequences of actions is essential to motor learning and planning. Recent research has indicated that serial memory for instructions is influenced by presentation modality (spoken vs. visual demonstration) and recall modality (verbal vs. enacted recall). The present study extended this work by investigating the impact of recall direction (forward vs. backward), in addition to that of presentation and recall modality, on working memory for instruction sequences in healthy young adults. Experiment 1 (N = 24) showed that adults were more accurate in backward than forward verbal recall following spoken instructions. In contrast, enacted recall was not influenced by recall direction. Experiment 2 (N = 24) used visual demonstration of instruction sequences and found similar performance levels in forward and backward recall. Experiment 3 (N = 24) replicated the findings from Experiment 1 and 2, along with the previous observation of an advantage for demonstrated over spoken presentation. In addition, the beneficial effects of enacted recall and visual demonstration also emerged in an analysis of response times, specifically in reduced preparation and recall duration. Demonstrated instructions improved maintenance of all items while backward recall enhanced memory of later items in the sequence. These findings provide new insights into the cognitive processes and temporal dynamics of working memory for serial actions and instructions.

CAER Authors

Avatar Image for Richard Allen

Dr. Richard Allen

University of Leeds - Associate Professor

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