THE ROLE OF WORKING MEMORY IN DIRECTION GIVING AND WAYFINDING
Finding your way and communicating directions are important aspects of people's everyday lives. These complex activities rely on working memory, which is necessary for keeping things in mind while simultaneously preforming other tasks. Baddeley and Hitch's model of working memory includes four parts. The central executive is the main control center of working memory. The visuo-spatial sketch stores visual semantics like visual and spatial details, while the phonological loop stores verbal information such as language. The episodic buffer is the component capable of holding temporary multidimensional chunks of visual and auditory information (Baddeley, 2009). It has been found in past research that wayfinding directions were less accurate when visuospatial working memory was being taxed by a secondary task. Wayfinding times were also found to be slower when visuospatial memory was being taxed (Hund, 2016). The present study investigated the role of working in direction giving and wayfinding in an outdoor environment. The sample consisted of 123 participants recruited from Illinois State University. We tested the role of working memory in direction giving and wayfinding through a dual-task methodology. The dual tasks included distinguishing between authentic or fictitious English words (taxing verbal working memory) or making decisions about times on a clock (taxing visuospatial working memory) while simultaneously giving directions or finding the best route to a specific destination on the university quad, compared to simply giving directions or wayfinding. Data on gender, wayfinding attitudes and preferences and working memory capacity also were collected through a survey, circle point task procedure, and digit span task. We expected more efficient direction giving and wayfinding performance from participants with greater working memory capacity. Furthermore, we predicted that wayfinding and direction giving would be less effective during trials when working memory was engaged in verbal and visuospatial dual-tasks compared to the single task control trials of just giving directions or wayfinding, given that dual-tasks tax working memory. These finding would reinforce that working memory is important in direction giving and wayfinding while also providing valuable information on how individuals communicate directions and find the best route to specific destinations in an outdoor environment.
Powers, Victoria; Mordan, Leanne; and Roberts, Darin, "THE ROLE OF WORKING MEMORY IN DIRECTION GIVING AND WAYFINDING" (2019). University Research Symposium. 337.