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The effects of working memory capacity and task type on motor performance

Laura E Whitwer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Two separate experiments demonstrated that performance on a simple motor task was compromised by performing certain working memory tasks simultaneously. The motor task utilized was a tracking task which was able to differentiate among many of the simultaneously performed working memory tasks. More complex working memory tasks are associated with greater degradation of motor performance. This study also demonstrated that there are large individual differences in which working memory tasks were associated with the greatest decline in performance. This may be partially attributable to individual differences in knowledge and experience that are relevant to particular tasks. ^ For about half of the participants, working memory capacity predicted performance across the different conditions of the tracking task such that those with higher working memory capacity performed better. Working memory capacity did not predict performance for those who performed poorly on the tracking task while performing simple arithmetic, however. Perhaps this condition was able to group participants in a way that afforded some control over individual differences in both mathematical ability and motor skill in tracking. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Cognitive

Recommended Citation

Whitwer, Laura E, "The effects of working memory capacity and task type on motor performance" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3126972.