Intervening tasks and visuospatial memory: The role of similarity in retroactive interference

L. F. Morra, S. M. Garcon, M. E. Lucas, P. J. Donovick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Verbal tasks are often administered during the Rey-Osterreith Complex Figure Test (ROCFT) delay period in order to minimize retroactive interference resulting from similarity between tests (Meyers & Meyers, 1995). However, previous studies showed that similarity between the California Verbal Learning Test-II (CVLT-II) and intervening tasks administered during the delay period did not affect memory performance on the CVLT-II. In the current study we examined whether intervening tasks similar to the ROCFT would increase retroactive interference compared to dissimilar tasks, thereby negatively impacting visuospatial memory performance. A total of 106 undergraduate students were divided into three groups. Each group completed different intervening tasks during the ROCFT delay interval. Groups did not differ on copy, immediate recall, and delayed recall trials of the ROCFT. However, a repeated-measures ANOVA revealed an interaction between group and trial (p <.001), suggesting group performance on the ROCFT was differentially impacted by the intervening task. Planned comparisons indicated that the group completing two similar non-verbal intervening tasks had poorer memory of the complex figure and performed significantly worse on recognition (p =.003) and percent retention (p <.001) trials, respectively. This suggests that similarity of intervening tasks impacts memory performance on a complex figure test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)818-826
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Complex figure
  • Interference
  • Memory
  • Ray Osterreith
  • Retroactive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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