Into the Void: The Gap Between N-Back and Complex Span Tasks Suggests Inadequacies in Current Models of Working Memory

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Psychology, Massey University
The tasks used to assess working memory are a highly contentious issue in cognitive psychology. Previous research has found a weak relationship between two key types of working memory tasks: N-Back and Complex Span. This is commonly interpreted as evidence that one or both tasks possess poor construct validity. However, this finding may be a result of assessing different modalities of working memory. The current pilot study aimed to clarify the differences between the two tasks by assessing performance on each within the same modality. A spatial and verbal version of each task was used. Although, theoretically, these tasks assess the same construct, the pilot data revealed low correlations between them. This suggests that the current models of working memory may be inadequate, or that unidentified differences between the tasks may be influencing the results. Due to their widespread use and applications, it is important to better understand models of working memory and develop improved tasks.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Working memory, N-Back, Complex span, Spatial working memory, Verbal working memory