01/04/2015 Medicine Psychology
DOI: 10.3758/s13421-014-0481-3 SemanticScholar ID: 20477276 MAG: 2048102921

How does enactment affect the ability to follow instructions in working memory?

Publication Summary

Recent studies examining working memory for sequences of instructions have demonstrated a performance advantage when the instructions are physically enacted rather than verbally recalled. However, little is known about the source of this effect, or how instructions are stored in working memory more generally. In particular, no previous studies have compared the impacts of enactment on encoding versus recall in working memory. We conducted an experiment to examine the impacts of enactment on both the encoding and recall phases of a task measuring memory for sequences of simple action–object pairs (e.g., touch the circle, spin the cross, flip the square, . . .) in young adult participants. An advantage for enacted over verbal recall was observed, in line with recent evidence. In addition, the enactment of actions during the encoding phase on each trial significantly facilitated subsequent performance; this effect was particularly apparent for verbal repetition rather than enacted recall. These findings are interpreted as reflecting a beneficial role for spatial–motoric coding in working memory that can be engaged through either action planning or physical performance.

CAER Authors

Avatar Image for Richard Allen

Dr. Richard Allen

University of Leeds - Associate Professor

Avatar Image for Amanda Waterman

Prof. Amanda Waterman

University of Leeds - Professor of Cognitive Development

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