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The interplay between posture control and memory for spatial locations

Abstract

Three experiments examined interactions between posture control in upright stance and a concurrent location memory task. Healthy young participants stood upright and memorized the locations of dots presented on a computer screen. In the retrieval phase, they indicated whether arrows presented on the screen would pass through any of the memorized locations. Postural sway variability was measured either during the retention period or during retrieval. Relative to not performing the memory task, postural sway variability increased in the retention period when the eyes were closed, but remained unaffected when the eyes were open. During retrieval, postural sway variability was reduced relative to the no-memory-task condition. Results were interpreted in terms of dual-task costs associated with maintaining multiple frames of reference.

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Notes

  1. More generally, the spatial cognition literature suggests that enduring representations of locations of environmental objects use intrinsic (i.e., allocentric) reference frames (Rump and McNamara 2007). Neggers et al. (2006) suggest that this may be because egocentric encoding is essentially a parietal cortical process invoked in the context of goal-directed action, whereas allocentric coding is used by the ventral visual processing stream in the context of location judgment tasks (such as the one used in the present study).

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Acknowledgments

Michael Riley, Nichole Saunders, Adam Kiefer, and Sebastian Wallot were supported by NSF (USA) grants HSD 0728743, BCS 092662, BCS 0642716, and BCS 0843133. Suvobrata Mitra was supported by ESRC (UK) grants RES-000-22-2248 and RES-000-22-4433.

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Correspondence to Michael A. Riley.

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Riley, M.A., Mitra, S., Saunders, N. et al. The interplay between posture control and memory for spatial locations. Exp Brain Res 217, 43–52 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-011-2970-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-011-2970-y

Keywords

  • Spatial memory
  • Posture control
  • Reference frames
  • Dual-tasking