Map learning and working memory: Multimodal learning strategies.

Research paper by Matthew James MJ Knight, Michael M Tlauka

Indexed on: 05 May '17Published on: 05 May '17Published in: Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)


The current research investigated whether learning spatial information from a map involves different modalities, which are managed by discrete components in working memory. In four experiments, participants studied a map either while performing a simultaneous interference task (high cognitive load) or without interference (low cognitive load). The modality of interference varied between experiments. Experiment 1 used a tapping task (visuospatial), Experiment 2 a backwards counting task (verbal), Experiment 3 an articulatory suppression task (verbal) and Experiment 4 an n-back task (central executive). Spatial recall was assessed in two tests, directional judgements and map drawing. Cognitive load was found to affect spatial recall detrimentally regardless of interference modality. The findings suggest that when learning maps people use a multimodal learning strategy, utilising resources from all components of working memory.