Differentiating verbal and spatial working memory while cross-domain activation is inhibited: a latent variable analysis

Thumbnail Image
Douglas, Brian
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Guelph

The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether working memory (WM) span task performance is driven by predominantly domain-general or domain-specific processes. Fifty-two participants were administered six WM span measures modified from Kane et al. (2004) to include a suppression component. Three tasks involved spatial recall elements, and three involved verbal elements. Confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to compare the fit of two competing models: a one-factor domain-general model characterized by a unitary WM construct, and a two-factor domain-specific model characterized by separate spatial and verbal WM constructs. Results revealed that the domain-specific model provided a good fit for the data, whereas the domain-general model did not, and the two-factor model provided a significantly better fit than the unitary model. Furthermore, verbal and spatial WM capacity was only moderately correlated in the two-factor model sharing 24-25% variance. The findings that predominantly domain-specific processes drove performance on the WM tasks suggest a reformulation of the current WM framework.

working memory span, task performance, domain-general, domain-specific processe, verbal working memory, spatial working memory