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Following instructions in a virtual school: Does working memory play a role?

Jaroslawska AJ, Gathercole SE, Logie MR, Holmes J - Mem Cognit (2016)

Bottom Line: One task involved performing actions in a single classroom, and the other, performing actions in multiple locations in a virtual school building.Verbal working memory was closely linked with all three following-instructions paradigms, but with greater association to the virtual than to the real-world tasks.These results indicate that verbal working memory plays a key role in following instructions over extended periods of activity.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge, CB2 7EF, UK. agnieszka.jaroslawska@mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT
Accumulating evidence that working memory supports the ability to follow instructions has so far been restricted to experimental paradigms that have greatly simplified the practical demands of performing actions to instructions in everyday tasks. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether working memory is involved in maintaining information over the longer periods of time that are more typical of everyday situations that require performing instructions to command. Forty-two children 7-11 years of age completed assessments of working memory, a real-world following-instructions task employing 3-D objects, and two new computerized instruction-following tasks involving navigation around a virtual school to complete a sequence of practical spoken commands. One task involved performing actions in a single classroom, and the other, performing actions in multiple locations in a virtual school building. Verbal working memory was closely linked with all three following-instructions paradigms, but with greater association to the virtual than to the real-world tasks. These results indicate that verbal working memory plays a key role in following instructions over extended periods of activity.

No MeSH data available.


Screen shots of the virtual school: (A) the layout of the items in one of the classrooms, (B) a close-up view of sample objects, (C) the main corridor of the virtual school building, and (D) the head teacher’s office.
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Fig1: Screen shots of the virtual school: (A) the layout of the items in one of the classrooms, (B) a close-up view of sample objects, (C) the main corridor of the virtual school building, and (D) the head teacher’s office.

Mentions: The single-classroom task was an on-screen version of the 3-D manual following-instructions paradigm developed by Gathercole et al. (2008). At the start of each trial, the participant was presented with a first-person view of a classroom, with desks laid out around the edges of the room (see Fig. 1). Different items of stationery stood on each desk. Participants received spoken instructions over headphones, which they were then required to carry out in serial order by walking up to the objects with the navigation keys and then pressing the correct action key on the keyboard (i.e., “t” or “p”). The stimuli and action phrases were constructed in the same way as those in the real-world task: There were five objects (a ball, a folder, a box, pens, and a bottle) in each of four colors (green, red, yellow, and blue) and two actions (touch and pick up); the instruction phrases were concatenated using the adverb “then” in order to produce sequences that varied in length but were not linguistically complex. The items used in each instruction were selected at random, with the constraint that no repetition of color and object combinations occurred in the instructions as a whole. Seeing one action-based command through to completion could take between 6 and 12 s, depending on the exact location of the object. No time restrictions were imposed on the participants during testing.Fig. 1


Following instructions in a virtual school: Does working memory play a role?

Jaroslawska AJ, Gathercole SE, Logie MR, Holmes J - Mem Cognit (2016)

Screen shots of the virtual school: (A) the layout of the items in one of the classrooms, (B) a close-up view of sample objects, (C) the main corridor of the virtual school building, and (D) the head teacher’s office.
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4835523&req=5

Fig1: Screen shots of the virtual school: (A) the layout of the items in one of the classrooms, (B) a close-up view of sample objects, (C) the main corridor of the virtual school building, and (D) the head teacher’s office.
Mentions: The single-classroom task was an on-screen version of the 3-D manual following-instructions paradigm developed by Gathercole et al. (2008). At the start of each trial, the participant was presented with a first-person view of a classroom, with desks laid out around the edges of the room (see Fig. 1). Different items of stationery stood on each desk. Participants received spoken instructions over headphones, which they were then required to carry out in serial order by walking up to the objects with the navigation keys and then pressing the correct action key on the keyboard (i.e., “t” or “p”). The stimuli and action phrases were constructed in the same way as those in the real-world task: There were five objects (a ball, a folder, a box, pens, and a bottle) in each of four colors (green, red, yellow, and blue) and two actions (touch and pick up); the instruction phrases were concatenated using the adverb “then” in order to produce sequences that varied in length but were not linguistically complex. The items used in each instruction were selected at random, with the constraint that no repetition of color and object combinations occurred in the instructions as a whole. Seeing one action-based command through to completion could take between 6 and 12 s, depending on the exact location of the object. No time restrictions were imposed on the participants during testing.Fig. 1

Bottom Line: One task involved performing actions in a single classroom, and the other, performing actions in multiple locations in a virtual school building.Verbal working memory was closely linked with all three following-instructions paradigms, but with greater association to the virtual than to the real-world tasks.These results indicate that verbal working memory plays a key role in following instructions over extended periods of activity.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge, CB2 7EF, UK. agnieszka.jaroslawska@mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT
Accumulating evidence that working memory supports the ability to follow instructions has so far been restricted to experimental paradigms that have greatly simplified the practical demands of performing actions to instructions in everyday tasks. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether working memory is involved in maintaining information over the longer periods of time that are more typical of everyday situations that require performing instructions to command. Forty-two children 7-11 years of age completed assessments of working memory, a real-world following-instructions task employing 3-D objects, and two new computerized instruction-following tasks involving navigation around a virtual school to complete a sequence of practical spoken commands. One task involved performing actions in a single classroom, and the other, performing actions in multiple locations in a virtual school building. Verbal working memory was closely linked with all three following-instructions paradigms, but with greater association to the virtual than to the real-world tasks. These results indicate that verbal working memory plays a key role in following instructions over extended periods of activity.

No MeSH data available.