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Title: The problem of serial order in visuospatial short-term memory
Author: Hurlstone, Mark John
ISNI:       0000 0004 2698 8141
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2010
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How do we remember the order of a novel sequence of items? Much research has examined how people remember sequences of verbal stimuli (e.g., digits in a phone number), and several mechanisms of serial order have been proposed to underlie memory for such sequences. Less research has examined how people remember the order of sequences of visuospatial stimuli (e.g., a series of spatial locations), and the mechanisms of serial order underlying such sequences remain unspecified. This thesis explores the extent to which memory for sequences of visuospatial stimuli is explicable in term of mechanisms proposed to underlie memory for verbal sequences. Contemporary models of verbal short-term memory represent serial order either by: (I) using a competitive queuing sequence planning and control mechanism, by (2) position marking, by (3) a primacy gradient of activation, by (4) incorporating response suppression, and by (5) implementing output interference, or through some combination of these mechanisms. Empirical evidence suggests that all five mechanisms must coexist in any adequate model of serial order memory for verbal sequences. In this thesis, I argue that extant data indicating functional similarities between verbal and visuospatial serial order memory support the idea that visuospatial sequences are planned and controlled using a competitive queuing mechanism. However, direct evidence for the role of the four remaining mechanisms of serial order in visuospatial short-term memory is currently lacking. I present a series of twelve experiments examining memory for visuospatial sequences, combined with computational modelling work, which sought direct evidence for the role (or lack thereof) of the different mechanisms of serial order. The outcomes of the experiments and computational modelling work suggest that the serial order of a visuospatial sequence is represented by a competitive queuing system, equipped with a primacy gradient, positional markers, and response suppression. The results therefore buttress the notion that verbal and visuospatial short-term memory rely on some common mechanisms for the representation and generation of serial order.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available