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Access to linguistic structure enhances visuospatial working memory capacity
Linköping University, The Swedish Institute for Disability Research. Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Disability Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
University College London.
University of Manchester.
University College London.
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2012 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Verbal and visuospatial working memory (WM) have been widely studied but little is known about linguistic versus non-linguistic WM in the visuospatial domain. Sign languages (SL) are visuospatial languages that have a neurocognitive representation in deaf people similar to that of speech-based languages in hearing people. Thus SL can be used to study linguistic WM in the visuospatial domain. In the present study, SL stimuli were used as linguistic stimuli for signers and non-linguistic stimuli for non-signers to investigate how access to semantic and phonological representations of SL influences visuospatial WM. Materials were videos of a deaf signer modeling three types of sign-based stimuli and matched non-linguistic stimuli. 25 deaf native signers (DS) took part along with 25 hearing non-signers (HN) who could not access any linguistic content of the material. Sign-based stimuli were familiar signs (semantic and phonological content), unfamiliar signs (phonological but! no semantic content) and non-signs (illegal combinations of phonological components with no semantic content). All participants performed 2-back WM tasks, targeting either the identity (visual aspect) or location (spatial aspect) of the stimuli, with all four materials. In the identity task DS performed better than HN with sign-based materials but did not gain extra benefit from semantic or phonological content. In the location task DS benefited from semantic but not phonological content. These results show that signers can use linguistic knowledge in visuospatial WM tasks. Specifically, access to phonological components (sign-based material) supports identity processing and semantic content (familiar signs) supports location processing in visuospatial WM.

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Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-88072OAI: diva2:601479
Nineteenth Annual Cognitive Neuroscience Society Meeting, March 31 - April 3, 2012, Chicago, Illinois.
Available from: 2013-01-29 Created: 2013-01-29 Last updated: 2013-01-29

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Rudner, MaryRönnberg, Jerker
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The Swedish Institute for Disability ResearchDisability ResearchFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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