Visuospatial Bootstrapping: Aging and the Facilitation of Verbal Memory by Spatial Displays

Clara Calia, Stephen Darling, Richard Allen, Jelena Havelka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent studies on verbal immediate serial recall show evidence of the integration of information from verbal and
visuospatial short-term memory with long-term memory representations. Verbal serial recall is improved when the
information is arranged in a familiar spatially distributed pattern, such as a telephone keypad. This pattern, termed
visuospatial bootstrapping, is consistent with the existence within working memory of an episodic buffer (Baddeley, 2000).
The present experiment aimed to investigate whether similar results would be obtained in a sample of older adults. Older
(55–76) and younger (19 –35) adults carried out visual serial recall in 3 visual display conditions that have previously been
used to demonstrate visuospatial bootstrapping. Results demonstrated better performance when digits were presented in a
typical telephone keypad display. Although digit serial recall declined with age, there was no evidence that this visuospatial
bootstrapping effect differed in size between older and younger adults. Theoretical and practical implications of these
results are described.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-81
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Scientific Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • working memory
  • binding,
  • episodic buffer
  • aging,
  • visuospatial bootstrapping


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