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Title: Spatio-temporal structure, path characteristics and perceptual grouping in immediate serial spatial recall
Authors: De Lillo, Carlo
Kirby, Melissa
Poole, Daniel
First Published: 11-Nov-2016
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Citation: Frontiers in Psychology 7:1686
Abstract: Immediate serial spatial recall measures the ability to retain sequences of locations in short-term memory and is considered the spatial equivalent of digit span. It is tested by requiring participants to reproduce sequences of movements performed by an experimenter or displayed on a monitor. Different organizational factors dramatically affect serial spatial recall but they are often confounded or underspecified. Untangling them is crucial for the characterization of working-memory models and for establishing the contribution of structure and memory capacity to spatial span. We report five experiments assessing the relative role and independence of factors that have been reported in the literature. Experiment 1 disentangled the effects of spatial clustering and path-length by manipulating the distance of items displayed on a touchscreen monitor. Long-path sequences segregated by spatial clusters were compared with short-path sequences not segregated by clusters. Recall was more accurate for sequences segregated by clusters independently from path-length. Experiment 2 featured conditions where temporal pauses were introduced between or within cluster boundaries during the presentation of sequences with the same paths. Thus, the temporal structure of the sequences was either consistent or inconsistent with a hierarchical representation based on segmentation by spatial clusters but the effect of structure could not be confounded with effects of path-characteristics. Pauses at cluster boundaries yielded more accurate recall, as predicted by a hierarchical model. In Experiment 3, the systematic manipulation of sequence structure, path-length, and presence of path-crossings of sequences showed that structure explained most of the variance, followed by the presence/absence of path-crossings, and path-length. Experiments 4 and 5 replicated the results of the previous experiments in immersive virtual reality navigation tasks where the viewpoint of the observer changed dynamically during encoding and recall. This suggested that the effects of structure in spatial span are not dependent on perceptual grouping processes induced by the aerial view of the stimulus array typically afforded by spatial recall tasks. These results demonstrate the independence of coding strategies based on structure from effects of path characteristics and perceptual grouping in immediate serial spatial recall.
DOI Link: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01686
eISSN: 1664-1078
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: © 2016 De Lillo, Kirby and Poole. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Description: The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at:
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour

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