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ERIC Number: EJ1056040
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Nov
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Spatial Working Memory Is Necessary for Actions to Guide Thought
Thomas, Laura E.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v39 n6 p1974-1981 Nov 2013
Directed actions can play a causal role in cognition, shaping thought processes. What drives this cross-talk between action and thought? I investigated the hypothesis that representations in spatial working memory mediate interactions between directed actions and problem solving. Participants attempted to solve an insight problem while occasionally either moving their eyes in a pattern embodying the problem's solution or maintaining fixation. They simultaneously held either a spatial or verbal stimulus in working memory. Participants who moved their eyes in a pattern that embodied the solution were more likely to solve the problem, but only while also performing a verbal working memory task. Embodied guidance of insight was eliminated when participants were instead engaged in a spatial working memory task while moving their eyes, implying that loading spatial working memory prevented movement representations from influencing problem solving. These results point to spatial working memory as a mechanism driving embodied guidance of insight, suggesting that actions do not automatically influence problem solving. Instead, cross-talk between action and higher order cognition requires representations in spatial working memory.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Dakota; Tennessee
Grant or Contract Numbers: EPS-0814442