Binding serial order to representations in working memory: A spatial/verbal dissociation

Leon Gmeindl, Megan Walsh, Susan M. Courtney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Verbal information is coded naturally as ordered representations in working memory (WM). However, this may not be true for spatial information. Accordingly, we used memory span tasks to test the hypothesis that serial order is more readily bound to verbal than to spatial representations. Removing serial-order requirements improved performance more for spatial locations than for digits. Furthermore, serial order was freely reproduced twice as frequently for digits as for locations. When participants reordered spatial sequences, they minimized the mean distance between items. Participants also failed to detect changes in serial order more frequently for spatial than for verbal sequences. These results provide converging evidence for a dissociation in the binding of serial order to spatial versus verbal representations. There may be separable domain-specific control processes responsible for this binding. Alternatively, there may be fundamental differences in how effectively temporal information can be bound to different types of stimulus features in WM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Attention
  • Capacity
  • Configuration
  • Domain specific
  • Recall
  • Recognition
  • Short term memory
  • Span
  • Temporal order
  • Visuospatial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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