A Direct Comparison of Short-Term Audiomotor and Visuomotor Memory

in Motor Control
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Audiomotor and visuomotor short-term memory are required for an important variety of skilled movements but have not been compared in a direct manner previously. Audiomotor memory capacity might be greater to accommodate auditory goals that are less directly related to movement outcome than for visually guided tasks. Subjects produced continuous isometric force with the right index finger under auditory and visual feedback. During the first 10 s of each trial, subjects received continuous auditory or visual feedback. For the following 15 s, feedback was removed but the force had to be maintained accurately. An internal effort condition was included to test memory capacity in the same manner but without external feedback. Similar decay times of ~5–6 s were found for vision and audition but the decay time for internal effort was ~4 s. External feedback thus provides an advantage in maintaining a force level after feedback removal, but may not exclude some contribution from a sense of effort. Short-term memory capacity appears longer than certain previous reports but there may not be strong distinctions in capacity across different sensory modalities, at least for isometric force.

Ward is with the Dept. of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA. Loucks is with the Dept. of Speech and Hearing Science, and Ofori and Sosnoff the Dept. of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL.

Address author correspondence to Torrey M. Loucks at tloucks@uiuc.edu.