Individual Differences in Representational Precision Predict Spatial Working Memory Span

Steven A. Marchette, Megan W. Sever, Jonathan I. Flombaum, Amy L. Shelton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perhaps the signature feature of working memory is that it is limited. In the same subjects, we used two different retrieval tasks to independently measure two different limits of spatial memory. Precision was measured by asking participants to localize a missing target item among a field of other targets and distracters. Capacity was measured with a similar task where participants identified, rather than localized, a set of remembered targets from within a larger set of identical items. Across participants, the precision of localization was positively correlated with the number of successfully retrieved items. These data suggest that an individual's representational capacity may ultimately be constrained by their ability to form precise representations of space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-328
Number of pages21
JournalSpatial Cognition and Computation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015


  • individual differences
  • memory capacity
  • memory precision
  • spatial representation
  • spatial working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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