Verbal Shadowing and Visual Interference in Spatial Memory

Tobias Meilinger, Heinrich H. Bülthoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial memory is thought to be organized along experienced views and allocentric reference axes. Memory access from different perspectives typically yields V-patterns for egocentric encoding (monotonic decline in performance along with the angular deviation from the experienced perspectives) and W-patterns for axes encoding (better performance along parallel and orthogonal perspectives than along oblique perspectives). We showed that learning an object array with a verbal secondary task reduced W-patterns compared with learning without verbal shadowing. This suggests that axes encoding happened in a verbal format; for example, by rows and columns. Alternatively, general cognitive load from the secondary task prevented memorizing relative to a spatial axis. Independent of encoding, pointing with a surrounding room visible yielded stronger W-patterns compared with pointing with no room visible. This suggests that the visible room geometry interfered with the memorized room geometry. With verbal shadowing and without visual interference only V-patterns remained; otherwise, V- and W-patterns were combined. Verbal encoding and visual interference explain when W-patterns can be expected alongside V-patterns and thus can help in resolving different performance patterns in a wide range of experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere74177
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Sept 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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