Development of Working Memory and Spatial Representation: How Are They Related?

David H. Uttal, Jose Sotelo, Priti Shah

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Our chapter will review and integrate two lines of research that ostensibly seem related but have rarely been discussed together. The first is research on the development of working visual memory, and the second concerns the development of the spatial representation of locations. Spatial working memory has received a great deal of attention and has been offered as a candidate for the focus of interventions to improve academic achievement. There is substantial disagreement as to whether working memory is domain-specific or domain-general but relies on domain-specific representations. Nonetheless, there is a broad agreement that there is a system for active maintenance of spatial information. There is also an agreement about its psychological properties and neural correlates. Spatial representations refer to what information is encoded when remembering where an object, or set of objects, is located. Researchers have documented a variety of different representations for spatial information ranging from the geometry of the space to the positions of locations relative to distinct landmarks. Although the long-term representation and active maintenance of spatial information in working memory are logically intertwined, research on these two topics is largely independent. We will consider how the two lines of research might inform one another. For example, are changes in working memory capacity responsible for changes in how children code information and vice versa? Do developmental changes in the coding of spatial representation affect how working memory develops? Our review will thus shed new light both on spatial working memory and spatial representation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Development of Memory in Infancy and Childhood, Third Edition
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781000576276
ISBN (Print)9780367860332
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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