The Role of Experience in the Development of Spatial Working Memory

  • Schutte, Anne R (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Spatial working memory deficits occur in many developmental disabilities, including ADHD, Williams Syndrome, and autism. Despite the ubiquitous nature of spatial working memory deficits, very little is known about the normative development of spatial working memory. One thing researchers have identified, is a transition in spatial working memory early in development; however, researchers examining this transition have focused on what is changing, and have not explained what causes this change in spatial working memory. Before interventions can be developed for children with spatial memory deficits, it is necessary to determine what affects the development of spatial working memory. The goal of the research proposed here is to begin to examine how experience modulates spatial working memory development using a neural network model, the dynamic field theory, as a guide. The proposed research will use microgenetic methods to begin to examine the role of different types of experience in stimulating the development of spatial working memory. Specifically, children near the transition point will be given additional experience to determine if experience can "push" them through the transition earlier than children not receiving additional experience. Thus, the first aim of this research is to determine whether children given task-specific experience in a SWM task will transition earlier than a control group not receiving this experience. The second aim is to determine whether children given experience discriminating locations around the midline reference axis will transition earlier in the SWM task than a control group that does not receive any relevant experience. Experience that makes the reference axis more salient should cause children to transition. The third aim is to examine whether experience in one task generalizes to a second task. If the changes that result from additional experience are task general, they should generalize to a different SWM task. Determining how different types of experience affect the development of spatial working memory will provide us with a better understanding of the processes underlying spatial working memory. Understanding these processes will lead to a better understanding of spatial working memory deficits, and the development of interventions to alleviate these deficits.
Effective start/end date8/1/065/31/09


  • National Institutes of Health: $69,382.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $71,454.00


  • Medicine(all)


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