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Q J Exp Psychol A. 1996 Feb;49(1):200-15.

Irrelevant pictures in visual working memory.

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  • 1School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, Fife, UK.


The aim of the paper is to establish firmly the phenomenon of an irrelevant picture effect and to demonstrate that the phenomenon can be used to investigate the characteristics of the visuo-spatial sketchpad. Experiment 1 introduces the use of dynamic visual noise as an interfering technique. This technique is shown to cause interference with a word list learned under visual mnemonic mediation instructions but to cause no interference when the word list is learned under verbal mediation instructions. Experiment 2 serves both to replicate this selective interference effect and to illustrate how the dynamic visual noise technique can be used to characterize further the nature of interference in the visuo-spatial sketchpad. Experiment 3 confirms the robustness of the dynamic visual noise technique. Additionally, this experiment demonstrates a double dissociation between two types of interference, dynamic visual noise and irrelevant speech, and two types of mediation, rote and visual mnemonic.

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