Two experiments were conducted to investigate the notion that working memory is fractionated into visual and spatial components by demonstrating that a motion discrimination task selectively interferes with the spatial component. Also, because the motion cues used in the motion task were similar to those used in flight simulators, an attempt was made to understand which aspects of working memory are required to monitor those motion cues. These experiments examined participants’ ability to remember either the location or the appearance of visual stimuli while concurrently discriminating
between left/right motion cues produced by a motion seat. Motion cues occurred either during stimulus encoding (E1) or retention (E2) of the visual stimuli. The ability to remember the location of visual stimuli was selectively impaired by motion cues presented during either encoding or retention. In contrast, the motion cues did not interfere with memory for the stimulus' appearance. This study supports the multi-component model of working memory and the notion that encoding/retention of location and appearance information is served by separable mechanisms in working memory. The
finding that there is a cognitive cost of processing of visual-spatial information while interpreting motion cues, highlights the importance of including some form of motion cueing in flight simulators to more accurately represent the true mental demands of dynamic flight.