Double dissociation of processing temporal and spatial information in working memory

T. D. Hälbig, A. Mecklinger, H. Schriefers, A. D. Friederici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Based on the converging evidence supporting the view of domain specific object and spatial working memory processes, the question was addressed whether the property of domain specificity holds equally for temporal information. Using a selective interference paradigm the objective was to test a dissociation of the processing of temporal duration and spatial location information in working memory of intact human subjects. Subjects performed a temporal and a spatial memory task in which they were required to indicate whether the study and the test stimuli were the same or different in duration (temporal memory) or in location (spatial memory) as primary tasks. Both primary tasks were combined with three types of interference tasks, a spatial classification memory task, a temporal classification memory task and a non-interference baseline task-to be performed in-between the presentation of study and test stimuli. Memory for temporal duration was shown to be impaired by the temporal classification task but not by the spatial classification task; memory for spatial position showed the opposite pattern of impairment. These data thus provide evidence for the view that temporal and spatial working memory contents are subject to selective interference, reflecting a functional dissociation in the processing of temporal duration and spatial location information. The results are interpreted as evidence for the domain specificity in the processing of temporal information in working memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-311
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Domain specificity
  • Duration information
  • Location information
  • Modular processes
  • Selective interference paradigm


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