The role of spatial working memory in visual search efficiency

Sei Hwan Oh, Min Shik Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Citations (Scopus)


Many theories have proposed that visual working memory plays an important role in visual search. In contrast, by showing that a nonspatial working memory load did not interfere with search efficiency, Woodman, Vogel, and Luck (2001) recently proposed that the role of working memory in visual search is insignificant. However, the visual search process may interfere with spatial working memory. In the present study, a visual search task was performed concurrently with either a spatial working memory task (Experiment 1) or a nonspatial working memory task (Experiment 2). We found that the visual search process interfered with a spatial working memory load, but not with a nonspatial working memory load. These results suggest that there is a distinction between spatial and nonspatial working memory in terms of interactions with visual search tasks. These results imply that the visual search process and spatial working memory storage require the same limited-capacity mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-281
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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