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Percept Mot Skills. 2007 Aug;105(1):243-50.

Performance dissociation during verbal and spatial working memory tasks.

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Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health and Science University, 97239 Portland, USA.


Past research has inconsistently distinguished the neural substrates of various types of working memory. Task design and individual performance differences are known to alter patterns of brain response during working-memory tasks. These task and individual differences may have produced discrepancies in imaging findings. This study of 50 healthy adults (M(age) = 19.6 yr., SD = .8) examined performance during various parametric manipulations of a verbal and spatial n-back working-memory task. Performance systematically dissociated on the basis of working-memory load, working memory type, and stimulus difficulty, with participants having greater accuracy but slower response time during conditions requiring verbal versus spatial working memory. These findings hold implications for cognitive and neuroimaging studies of verbal and spatial working memory and highlight the importance of considering both task design and individual behavior.

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