Executive processes in visual and spatial working memory tasks

Susan J. Rudkin, David Graham Pearson, Robert H. Logie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


Three experiments are reported, which have investigated the nature of the cognitive mechanisms that underlie performance on specific visuo-spatial working memory tasks, with the emphasis on exploring the extent of central executive involvement. Experiments 1 and 2 employed oral random digit generation as an executive task within a dual-task paradigm. The results of both experiments indicated that visuo-spatial tasks that involve sequential processing of information show more interference with random digit generation than do visuo-spatial tasks that involve simultaneous processing. The third experiment substituted oral random digit generation for executive tasks that did not involve memory for serial order (vigilance tasks adapted from Vandierendonck, De Vooght, & Van der Goten, 1998b). The results indicated significant interference between the vigilance tasks and the sequential visuo-spatial task, but not with the simultaneous visuo-spatial task. Overall the results of the three experiments are interpreted as indicating that serial sequential visuo-spatial tasks involve executive resources to a significantly greater extent than do simultaneous visuo-spatial tasks, and that this can have implications for studies that attempt to make use of such tasks to fractionate separable visual and spatial components within working memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-100
Number of pages21
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • random number generation
  • short-term-memory
  • visuospatial memory
  • irrelevant speech
  • prefrontal cortex
  • movement
  • storage
  • interference
  • performance
  • attention


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