Working memory and mental arithmetic: a case for dual central executive resources.

Research paper by Kirk K Ketelsen, Marilyn M Welsh

Indexed on: 14 Sep '10Published on: 14 Sep '10Published in: Brain and Cognition


The current study was designed to examine the possible existence of two limited-capacity pools of central executive resources: one each for verbal and visuospatial processing. Ninety-one college students (M age=19.0, SD=2.2) were administered a verbal working memory task that involved updating numbers in 2-, 3-, and 4-load conditions. The task was administered in both single task (no-interference condition) and dual-task (verbal interference and visuospatial interference conditions) formats. Findings indicated main effects for both memory load and type of interference, as well as, a load × interference interaction. Verbal interference led to a steeper increase in errors on the primary verbal working memory task; whereas, there was a smaller increase in errors across load in both the non-verbal and no-interference conditions. The effect of verbal interference and the lack of a spatial interference effect on a primary task that utilized verbal working memory resources, suggests that the processing of verbal and spatial stimuli in a dual-task paradigm requires separate central executive resources.