The Spatialisation of Memory

In 2011 van Dijk and Fias suggested an innovative working memory paradigm.  They showed for the first time that words to be remembered, when presented sequentially at the center of a screen, acquired a new spatial dimension: the first words of the sequence acquired a left spatial value while the last words acquired a right spatial value.  Alessandro Guida and Magali Lavielle-Guida assess this apparently cultural ‘left-right spatialisation’ of the first to last as well as the small to the large.  They make these findings easy to understand by relating them to ancient mnemonic methods such as the ‘memory house’ or ‘method of loci‘ practiced by Cicero and dating as far back as Simonides of Ceos (556 BC–448 BC).

-Rob Shields University of Alberta


van Dijck, J. P., and Fias, W. (2011). A working memory account for spatial-numerical associations. Cognition 119, 114–119. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2010.12.013