Forward and backward recall: Different visuospatial processes when you know what’s coming
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In an immediate memory task, when participants are asked to recall list items in reverse order, benchmark memory phenomena found with more typical forward recall are not consistently reproduced. These inconsistencies have been attributed to the greater involvement of visuospatial representations in backward than in forward recall at the point of retrieval. In the present study, we tested this hypothesis with a dual-task paradigm in which manual-spatial tapping and dynamic visual noise were used as the interfering tasks. The interference task was performed during list presentation or at recall. In the first four experiments, recall direction was only communicated at the point of recall. In Experiments 1 and 2, fewer words were recalled with manual tapping than in the control condition. However, the detrimental effect of manual tapping did not vary as a function of recall direction or processing stage. In Experiment 3, dynamic visual noise did not influence recall performance. In Experiment 4, articulatory suppression was performed on all trials and manual tapping was added on half of them. As in the first two experiments, manual tapping disputed forward and backward recall to the same extent. In Experiment 5, recall direction was known before list presentation. As predicted by the visuospatial hypothesis, when manual tapping was performed during recall, its detrimental effect was limited to backward recall. Overall, results can be explained by calling upon a modified version of the visuospatial hypothesis.
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