“The case against specialized visual-spatial short-term memory”: Correction to Morey (2018).

Reports an error in “The case against specialized visual-spatial short-term memory” by Candice C. Morey (Psychological Bulletin, 2018[Aug], Vol 144[8], 849-883). In the article, the text describing the case reports of patient E. L. D. (Hanley, Pearson, & Young, 1990, Hanley, Young, & Pearson, 1991) the text should read that E. L. D. had difficulties compared to a control sample choosing which of 20 faces (rather than 12 faces) she had recently seen. Later in the same section, the text should read “she had little difficulty recognizing which of two familiar faces she had encountered in a recent experimental session . . . .”, rather than unfamiliar. Discussion with the original authors of the case reports describing E. L. D. also clarified a methodological point in their original report (Hanley, et al., 1990). The original report says that E. L. D. was given a recognition test for which particular view of an object she observed a month later. This in fact meant that E. L. D. undertook the entire task a month later than the other tasks in the set, not that she received the recognition test a month after exposure. None of these errors impact Morey’s (2018) conclusions, including the conclusion that E. L. D.’s case does not meet the criteria for an unambiguous, selective visual-spatial short-term memory deficit. (The following abstract of the original article appeared in record 2018-24700-001.) The dominant paradigm for understanding working memory, or the combination of the perceptual, attentional, and mnemonic processes needed for thinking, subdivides short-term memory (STM) according to whether memoranda are encoded in aural-verbal or visual formats. This traditional dissociation has been supported by examples of neuropsychological patients who seem to selectively lack STM for either aural-verbal, visual, or spatial memoranda, and by experimental research using dual-task methods. Though this evidence is the foundation of assumptions of modular STM systems, the case it makes for a specialized visual STM system is surprisingly weak. I identify the key evidence supporting a distinct verbal STM system—patients with apparent selective damage to verbal STM and the resilience of verbal short-term memories to general dual-task interference—and apply these benchmarks to neuropsychological and experimental investigations of visual-spatial STM. Contrary to the evidence on verbal STM, patients with apparent visual or spatial STM deficits tend to experience a wide range of additional deficits, making it difficult to conclude that a distinct short-term store was damaged. Consistently with this, a meta-analysis of dual-task visual-spatial STM research shows that robust dual-task costs are consistently observed regardless of the domain or sensory code of the secondary task. Together, this evidence suggests that positing a specialized visual STM system is not necessary. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)