Translating words into actions in working memory: The role of spatial-motoric coding

Li Guangquan, Richard J. Allen, Graham j. Hitch, Alan D. Baddeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research from a working memory perspective on the encoding and temporary maintenance of sequential instructions has established a consistent advantage for enacted over verbal recall. This is thought to reflect action planning for anticipated movements at the response phase. We describe five experiments investigating this, comparing verbal and enacted recall of a series of action–object pairings under different potentially disruptive concurrent task conditions, all requiring repetitive movements. A general advantage for enacted recall was observed across experiments, together with a tendency for concurrent action to impair sequence memory performance. The enacted recall advantage was reduced by concurrent action for both fine and gross concurrent movement with the degree of disruption influenced by both the complexity and the familiarity of the movement. The results are discussed in terms of an output buffer store of limited capacity capable of holding motoric plans for anticipated action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1959-1975
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number10
Early online date3 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

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