Visual working memory load does not eliminate visuomotor repetition effects

  • Jason RajsicEmail author
  • Matthew D. Hilchey
  • Geoffrey F. Woodman
  • Jay Pratt


When we respond to a stimulus, our ability to quickly execute this response depends on how combinations of stimulus and response features match to previous combinations of stimulus and response features. Some kind of memory representations must be underlying these visuomotor repetition effects. In this paper, we tested the hypothesis that visual working memory stores the stimulus information that gives rise to these effects. Participants discriminated the colors of successive stimuli while holding either three locations or colors in visual working memory. If visual working memory maintains the information about a previous event that leads to visuomotor repetition effects, then occupying working memory with colors or locations should selectively disrupt color–response and location–response repetition effects. The results of two experiments showed that neither color nor spatial memory load eliminated visuomotor repetition effects. Since working memory load did not disrupt repetition effects, it is unlikely that visual working memory resources are used to store the information that underlies visuomotor repetitions effects. Instead, these results are consistent with the view that visuomotor repetition effects stem from automatic long-term memory retrieval, but can also be accommodated by supposing separate buffers for visual working memory and response selection.


Visual working memory Repetition effects Memory: visual working and short-term memory 



Funding for this project was provided by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada grant to J.P. (194537), National Institutes of Health grants to G.F.W. (R01-EY025275, R01-EY019882, R01-MH110378, and P30-EY08126), a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Post-Graduate Scholarship to J.R., and a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Post-doctoral scholarship to M.D.H.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Open practices statement

The data for the experiments reported here are available at, and none of the experiments were preregistered.

Supplementary material

13414_2019_1839_MOESM1_ESM.doc (120 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 120 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason Rajsic
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthew D. Hilchey
    • 2
  • Geoffrey F. Woodman
    • 1
  • Jay Pratt
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoUSA

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