Concurrent performance of two memory tasks: evidence for domain-specific working memory systems

Gianna Cocchini, Robert H Logie, Sergio Della Sala, Sarah E MacPherson, Alan Baddeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies of dual-task coordination in working memory have shown a lack of dual-task interference when a verbal memory task is combined with concurrent perceptuomotor tracking. Two experiments are reported in which participants were required to perform pairwise combinations of (1) a verbal memory task, a visual memory task, and perceptuomotor tracking (Experiment 1), and (2) pairwise combinations of the two memory tasks and articulatory suppression (Experiment 2). Tracking resulted in no disruption of the verbal memory preload over and above the impact of a delay in recall and showed only minimal disruption of the retention of the visual memory load. Performing an ongoing verbal memory task had virtually no impact on retention of a visual memory preload or vice versa, indicating that performing two demanding memory tasks results in little mutual interference. Experiment 2 also showed minimal disruption when the two memory tasks were combined, although verbal memory (but not visual memory) was clearly disrupted by articulatory suppression interpolated between presentation and recall. These data suggest that a multiple-component working memory model provides a better account for performance in concurrent immediate memory tasks than do theories that assume a single processing and storage system or a limited-capacity attentional system coupled with activated memory traces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1086-95
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Mental Recall
  • Retention (Psychology)
  • Visual Perception
  • Vocabulary

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