2014 Volume 7 Pages 16-22
Results of several studies indicate that pointing movements can interfere with visuospatial working memory (VSWM). The interference effect of movementsof pointing to target locations is explained as attributable to failure of the appropriate use of retrieval strategies. This study further investigated the effects of pointing movements on VSWM performance, particularly addressing retrieval strategies. 28 participants (17 women, 11 men; M age = 23.0 yr, range = 21–29) were administered a VSWM task based on the Corsi blocks task, but modified to make it difficult for participants to use efficient retrieval strategies such as chunking or forming global visual images. Participants were required to recall the locations of targets in forward and backward order. Three conditions with respect to encoding were tested: (a) In the target-pointing condition, participants were required to point to the target locations. (b) In the no-pointing condition, participants were required only to view the presentation of targets. (c) In the irrelevant condition, participants were required to point to irrelevant locations. Significant differences were observed among the conditions and between the recall directions. However, performance when pointing to the target locations was not reduced compared to that achieved when viewing the presentation of targets.Results of this study support the view that the interference effect of pointing movements to the target locations derives from failure of the appropriate use of efficient retrieval strategies. Results also suggest that the effects of pointing movements on VSWM performance are task-dependent.