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Coding categorical and coordinate spatial relations in visual-spatial short-term memory

Dent, K (2009) 'Coding categorical and coordinate spatial relations in visual-spatial short-term memory.' Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62 (12). 2372 - 2387. ISSN 1747-0218

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Four experiments explored the coding of categorical and coordinate spatial relations in visual-spatial short-term memory (VSSTM). Participants judged whether two stimuli presented successively on a computer screen were the same or different. On positional change trials the two stimuli differed in the position of one element. Positional changes were of two types, coordinate and categorical. On coordinate trials the position of one element changed by a small amount, but retained the categorical relationships (above, below, left of, right of) to all other elements. On categorical trials one element moved by the same amount but additionally changed its categorical relationship to one of the other elements (e.g., changed from below to above). Participants detected categorical changes more accurately than coordinate changes when the elements were independent locations marked by squares, indicating that the categorical relationships amongst the squares were encoded in memory. Furthermore, this categorical advantage was unmodulated by either the suppression of articulation (Experiment 2) or by the requirement to retain either colour-position associations or positions only (Experiment 3). When the elements to be remembered were the vertices of simple outline polygons (Experiment 4) there was no categorical advantage, establishing the effect as spatial in nature. Contrary to predictions derived from Postma and De Haan (1996), the employment of categorical relations appears not to be specifically linked to either verbal coding or to the requirement to associate objects with positions. The results suggest that the categorical relations are an intrinsic property of the representation of spatial configurations. © 2009 The Experimental Psychology Society.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2011 16:30
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2019 11:15

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