Spatial attention interacts with serial-order retrieval from verbal working memory

Jean-Philippe van Dijck, Elger L Abrahamse, Steve Majerus, Wim Fias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The ability to maintain the serial order of events is recognized as a major function of working memory. Although general models of working memory postulate a close link between working memory and attention, such a link has so far not been proposed specifically for serial-order working memory. The present study provided the first empirical demonstration of a direct link between serial order in verbal working memory and spatial selective attention. We show that the retrieval of later items of a sequence stored in working memory-compared with that of earlier items-produces covert attentional shifts toward the right. This observation suggests the conceptually surprising notion that serial-order working memory, even for nonspatially defined verbal items, draws on spatial attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1854-9
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Attention/physiology
  • Belgium
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term/physiology
  • Serial Learning/physiology
  • Space Perception/physiology
  • Students/psychology
  • Verbal Behavior/physiology
  • Young Adult


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