The selective disruption of spatial working memory by eye movements

Bradley R Postle, Christopher Idzikowski, Sergio Della Sala, Robert H Logie, Alan Baddeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the late 1970s/early 1980s, Baddeley and colleagues conducted a series of experiments investigating the role of eye movements in visual working memory. Although only described briefly in a book, these studies have influenced a remarkable number of empirical and theoretical developments in fields ranging from experimental psychology to human neuropsychology to nonhuman primate electrophysiology. This paper presents, in full detail, three critical studies from this series, together with a recently performed study that includes a level of eye movement measurement and control that was not available for the older studies. Together, the results demonstrate several facts about the sensitivity of visuospatial working memory to eye movements. First, it is eye movement control, not movement per se, that produces the disruptive effects. Second, these effects are limited to working memory for locations and do not generalize to visual working memory for shapes. Third, they can be isolated to the storage/maintenance components of working memory (e.g., to the delay period of the delayed-recognition task). These facts have important implications for models of visual working memory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-20
Number of pages21
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electrooculography
  • Eye Movements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Middle Aged
  • Reaction Time
  • Recognition (Psychology)
  • Space Perception
  • Visual Fields

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