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J Exp Psychol Gen. 1996 Mar;125(1):4-27.

The separability of working memory resources for spatial thinking and language processing: an individual differences approach.

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Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, USA.


The current study demonstrates the separability of spatial and verbal working memory resources among college students. In Experiment 1, we developed a spatial span task that taxes both the processing and storage components of spatial working memory. This measure correlates with spatial ability (spatial visualization) measures, but not with verbal ability measures. In contrast, the reading span test, a common test of verbal working memory, correlates with verbal ability measures, but not with spatial ability measures. Experiment 2, which uses an interference paradigm to cross the processing and storage demands of span tasks, replicates this dissociation and further demonstrates that both the processing and storage components of working memory tasks are important for predicting performance on spatial thinking and language processing tasks.

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