Interference effects in recalling movements



In two experiments, the interaction of location and distance cues in the recall of pre-selected movements was investigated. In Expt 1, separate groups of subjects were required to remember either the terminal location of, or the distance moved during, a criterion movement pre-selected within a 30 cm response region. Following either a 5 s or 30 s unfilled retention interval, subjects were required to recall the criterion movement using the particular movement cue (i.e. location or distance) in question. In Expt 2, a similar procedure was used, except that recall of the criterion movement followed either a 5 s or a 20 s unfilled, or a 20 s filled (backward counting) retention interval. Systematic manipulation of both the direction and magnitude of the starting position for recall movements revealed that subjects were unable to make the movement uninfluenced by the ‘unattended’ movement cue. The interfering effect of this irrelevant cue was independent of the ongoing activity during the retention interval. The results suggest that memory for preselected movements is based on a combination of the two movement cues generated during production of the criterion movement.