Verbal

Verbal, Visual, and Spatial Working Memory in Written Language Production (2007) was written by Ronald T. Kellog, Thierry Olive, and Annie Piolat. The article was looking at what working memory components might be active when writing something out. There where a few hypotheses in this article. In Experiment 1 they hypothesized that both abstract and concrete nouns would slow the response of participants in the verbal task. They also hypothesized in the visual task that only the concrete nouns would cause issues with speed of response. In Experiment 2 they hypothesized that during the spatial task there would be no interference, and in Experiment 3 they were checking to see if the interference that was seen in the verbal task was phonological.
There were 60 participants in Experiment 1, 80 in Experiment 2, and 64 in Experiment 3. All of the participants were college students, and the article did not disclose any other demographic information about the participants.
This article focused on research using experiments. Experiment 1 was a 2 x 2 between subjects design. The IV’s were noun type (abstract or concrete) and task type (verbal or visual). The DV’s time taken to respond to task (ms), percentage of correctly identified targets, and score of the definition (0-2). Experiment 2 was also a 2 x 2 between subjects design. The IV’s were noun type (abstract or concrete) and task type (visual or spatial). The DV’s of Experiment 2 were the same as the ones that were used in Experiment 1. Experiment 3 was also a 2 x 2 between subjects design. The IV’s were noun type (concrete or abstract) and task presentation (heard or read). The DV’s of Experiment 3 were the same as the one used in the first two experiments.
In Experiment 1 the participants were asked to write the definitions of ten nouns, and these nouns were either concrete or abstract. While they were doing this they would be presented a syllable (verbal) or a shape (visual) on a screen that was embedded in the desk. There would be a 15-45s interval between each syllable or shape. They were asked to respond when the syllable or shape was different from the previous one that they had seen.
In Experiment 2 they also wrote out definitions of 10 nouns. While doing that they were presented shapes that were not common shapes like the ones used in experiment 1. There was a 15-45s interval between the presentation of each shape. In the visual task they were asked to respond if the shape was different than the previous one. In the spatial task they were asked to respond if the shape was in a different location on the screen than the previous shape, and the type of shape did not matter.
In Experiment 3 participants were asked to write the definitions of ten nouns. The method used for the verbal task was the same that was used in experiment 1. There was also a 15-45s interval between each presentation of the task item. The new condition had the syllable played on headphone for the participant. The syllable would play through one side of the headphones. They were asked to respond when the syllable that they heard was different than the one that was previously played.
In Experiment 1 they did find that both the abstract and concrete nouns did slow the responses of the participants in the verbal task group. They also found that only the concrete nouns slowed the responses of those in the of the participants in the visual task group. Both of these findings support what the authors hypothesized would happened. In Experiment 2 they also found that the response was slower in the speed of responding on concrete nouns in the visual task group. They also found that the spatial memory task really did not affect the responding speed with either abstract or concrete nouns. This supported what they hypothesized because the spatial task did not show interference with either abstract or concrete nouns. In Experiment 3 they found that there was not a significant difference between those who read it themselves or those who were presented it aurally. This supports their hypothesis that writing does affect how we store phonological representations in our verbal working memory.
Most students do a lot of writing. Students also try to do twenty different things while they are writing. These experiments presented in this research show that humans do have some trouble multitasking depending on what else they are trying to do while writing. These experiments give and idea on which working memory components are used in written language production, and it also shows that doing something else while writing does have the capability to overload that working memory component. Obviously there will need to be more research done on this topic in order to further our understanding of the processes underlying written language production.