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ERIC Number: EJ945293
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Nov
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 73
ISSN: ISSN-0096-3445
The Stability of Working Memory: Do Previous Tasks Influence Complex Span?
Healey, M. Karl; Hasher, Lynn; Danilova, Elena
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, v140 n4 p573-585 Nov 2011
Schmeichel (2007) reported that performing an initial task before completing a working memory span task can lower span scores and suggested that the effect was due to depleted cognitive resources. We showed that the detrimental effect of prior tasks depends on a match between the stimuli used in the span task and the preceding task. A task requiring participants to ignore words reduced performance on a subsequent word-based verbal span task but not on an arrow-based spatial span task. Ignoring arrows had the opposite pattern of effects: reducing performance on the spatial span task but not on the word-based span task. Finally, we showed that antisaccade, a nonverbal task that taxes domain-general processes implicated in working memory, did not influence subsequent performance of either a verbal or a spatial span task. Together these results suggest that while span is sensitive to prior tasks, that sensitivity does not stem from depleted resources. (Contains 1 figure, 2 tables and 3 footnotes.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada (Toronto)