Several studies suggest that serial order in working memory (WM) is grounded on space. For a list of ordered items held in WM, items at the beginning of the list are associated with the left side of space and items at the end of the list with the right side. This suggests that maintaining items in verbal WM is performed in strong analogy to writing these items down on a physical whiteboard for later consultation (The Mental Whiteboard Hypothesis). What drives this spatial mapping of ordered series in WM remains poorly understood. In the present study we tested whether visual experience is instrumental in establishing the link between serial order in WM and spatial processing. We tested early blind (EB), late blind (LB) and sighted individuals in an auditory WM task. Replicating previous studies, left-key responses were faster for early items in the list whereas later items facilitated right-key responses in the sighted group. The same effect was observed in LB individuals. In contrast, EB participants did not show any association between space and serial position in WM. These results suggest that early visual experience plays a critical role in linking ordered items in WM and spatial representations. The analogical spatial structure of WM may depend in part on the actual experience of using spatially organized devices (e.g., notes, whiteboards) to offload WM. These practices are largely precluded to EB individuals, who instead rely to mnemonic devices that are less spatially organized (e.g., recordings, vocal notes). The way we habitually organize information in the external world may bias the way we organize information in our WM.

Early blindness alters the spatial organization of verbal working memory / Bottini, Roberto; Mattioni, Stefania; Collignon, Olivier. - In: CORTEX. - ISSN 0010-9452. - 2016:(2016), p. 271-9. [10.1016/j.cortex.2016.08.007]

Early blindness alters the spatial organization of verbal working memory

Bottini, Roberto;Mattioni, Stefania;Collignon, Olivier
2016-01-01

Abstract

Several studies suggest that serial order in working memory (WM) is grounded on space. For a list of ordered items held in WM, items at the beginning of the list are associated with the left side of space and items at the end of the list with the right side. This suggests that maintaining items in verbal WM is performed in strong analogy to writing these items down on a physical whiteboard for later consultation (The Mental Whiteboard Hypothesis). What drives this spatial mapping of ordered series in WM remains poorly understood. In the present study we tested whether visual experience is instrumental in establishing the link between serial order in WM and spatial processing. We tested early blind (EB), late blind (LB) and sighted individuals in an auditory WM task. Replicating previous studies, left-key responses were faster for early items in the list whereas later items facilitated right-key responses in the sighted group. The same effect was observed in LB individuals. In contrast, EB participants did not show any association between space and serial position in WM. These results suggest that early visual experience plays a critical role in linking ordered items in WM and spatial representations. The analogical spatial structure of WM may depend in part on the actual experience of using spatially organized devices (e.g., notes, whiteboards) to offload WM. These practices are largely precluded to EB individuals, who instead rely to mnemonic devices that are less spatially organized (e.g., recordings, vocal notes). The way we habitually organize information in the external world may bias the way we organize information in our WM.
2016
Bottini, Roberto; Mattioni, Stefania; Collignon, Olivier
Early blindness alters the spatial organization of verbal working memory / Bottini, Roberto; Mattioni, Stefania; Collignon, Olivier. - In: CORTEX. - ISSN 0010-9452. - 2016:(2016), p. 271-9. [10.1016/j.cortex.2016.08.007]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11572/240702
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