Neurocognitive measures of visuospatial working memory performance


Throughout the course of a day, it is often necessary for individuals to remember locations of objects in space for a short time. These tasks are accomplished using visuospatial working memory (VSWM). One of the most widely used measure of VSMW  is the Corsi Block Test (Corsi, 1972) which involves recalling the location of up to 8 targets in the correct sequential order either in the same order as presented (forward) or in the opposite order (backward).  The  most commonly referenced indicator of memory performance is the final number of targets correctly recalled. Few studies have explored descriptors of motor behaviour (e.g. Fischer, 2001) involved in encoding and recalling target locations. In this study we were interested in extracting different metrics of motor performance that underlay memory performance. We hypothesized individuals who are more efficient at encoding the spatial locations of the targets would perform better at recalling the sequences presented to them. Thirty right-handed participants (Mage = 22.3, SD = 3.7) completed a computerized version of the Corsi Block Test. Efficiency scores were gathered by asking participants to click on the targets and measuring the distance traveled. Accuracy was measured by determining the number of correctly recalled sequences divided by the number of sequences presented to the participant. Response times and the distance travelled to each target location were also measured. Results demonstrated that individuals who achieved higher levels of accuracy in remembering the target locations in the forward direction, were typically more efficient at encoding the locations of the targets. However, the same efficiency scores could not predict the accuracy levels  achieved in the backward direction. Further explorations are currently underway for identifying other predictors of memory-motor interactions in this VSWM task.  We are also exploring the potential of this task for measuring the effects of sport-related concussion.